Britain sends warship to challenge Beijing's South China Sea claims

Britain sends warship to challenge Beijing's South China Sea claims

"She'll be sailing through the South China Sea and making it clear our navy has a right to do that", Williamson told the Australian.

Over the last several years China has claimed and built up into artificial islands a series of atolls and reefs in disputed parts of the South China Sea, a vital trading lane, and it has installed military hardware there.

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua (center) and other Chinese foreign ministry officials return to their meeting with their Philippine counterparts on the second Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on South China Sea in Taguig City Tuesday.

He also urged Australia to step up its response in the region.

'World dynamics are shifting so greatly.

The widely read state-run tabloid Global Times said Mr Williamson needed to state clearly the goal of the mission. "What they'll do, at best, is make more regular forays in the region, doing port calls and engaging in more joint training and exercises to make [their] presence felt and to show support in such manner".

Williamson has also warned that Australia needs to remain vigilant over China's rise.

He said: "I think we've always got to be vigilant to any form of malign intent".

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Speaking on Australia's ABC network on Tuesday, February 13, the United Kingdom defence chief said: "It's very important that we demonstrate that these are seas anyone can pass through and we'll be making sure that the Royal Navy will protect those rights for worldwide shipping".

'We've got to ensure that any form of malign intent is countered and we see increasing challenges - it's not just from China, it's from Russian Federation, it's from Iran - and we've got to be constantly making sure that our security measures, our critical national infrastructure is protected'.

"In the past China did not have the naval and air capacity to assert control over South China Sea. It's against the principles Western liberal democracies hold dear - free speech, free thought", he said. In fact, a closer and more cautious reading suggests that the advances are much more modest than suggested and hide the significant challenges that remain.

During the discussion, the two representatives highlighted the importance of the meeting as a consultation mechanism that would continue to contribute to Philippines and China's growing bilateral relations.

In 2016, the Communist Party's mouthpiece the Global Times launched a scathing attack on the Australian government after it made a decision to support an worldwide tribunal over the South China Sea.

Beijing has continued to extend its borders in the South China Sea in the face of global condemnation.

When asked about a possible freedom of navigation voyage by the British, China's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said all countries have "navigation and overflight freedom in the South China Sea".

The Philippines and China first met in Guizhou, China on May 19, 2017 to look for solutions to ease the tensions among South China Sea claimants.

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