Beijing threatens to ‘expel’ Royal Navy warships from South China Sea

By EJ Ward

Strike group led by HMS Queen Elizabeth is sailing through waters that are heavily contested between China and neighbouring countries. Picture: Alamy

Beijing has threatened to “expel” British warships from parts of the South China Sea as HMS Queen Elizabeth and her carrier group arrived in the disputed waters today.

Chinese state media threatened stern action against the Royal Navy’s carrier strike group (CSG) if it does not “remain restrained and obey the rules” as it sails through the waters.

The nationalist state tabloid Global Times even warned the Chinese navy is hoping to “practise” its military skills on the British ships as they sail through the contested waters of the South China Sea.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace set the scene earlier this month for a confrontation with Beijing when he said the deployment led by the flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth would sail on any route defined as legitimate under international law.

China claims the South China Sea despite an international court ruling in 2016 that it did not belong to the nation, which has grown increasingly assertive as it builds military bases and airport runways on constructed islands in the disputed waters.

An editorial in the state-run Global Times said the CSG entered the sea on Sunday as part of the “UK’s effort to show its presence in the region”.

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