Hong Kong, July 28 (IANS) China on Friday hit back at Britain after the country’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said two British aircraft carriers could be sent to patrol South China Sea.
Speaking on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang said “certain outside countries are determined to stir up trouble” in the region.
“Whatever banners these countries or officials claim to uphold, and whatever excuses they claim to have, their track record of bringing chaos and humanitarian disasters through their so-called moral interventions in other parts of the world is enough to make nations and peoples in the region maintain high vigilance,” Lu was quoted as saying by CNN.
His remarks come after Johnson, speaking in Australia on Thursday, said: “One of the first things we will do with the two new colossal aircraft carriers that we have just built is send them on a freedom of navigation operation to this area.”
Johnson did not specify where the carriers would be sent, but added the operation was designed to “vindicate our belief in the rules-based international system and in the freedom of navigation through those waterways which are absolutely vital for world trade”.
The new HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier and its sister ship HMS Prince of Wales are the biggest warships ever commissioned by the Royal Navy, the Daily Mail reported.
A decision to deploy the warships to the disputed region will be seen as a highly provocative move by Beijing and could undermine efforts to shore up what the two governments have called a “golden era” in their relationship as Britain heads towards a divorce with the European Union, the daily said.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea, and has heavily militarised some islands in the region and expanded other territories with major land reclamation work, turning sandbars into islands and equipping them with airfields, ports and weapons systems.
All or parts of the sea are also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, which has led to intense territorial disputes and naval stand-offs.
Beijing has accused the US of creating a “serious political and military provocation” by conducting similar freedom of navigation operations. Neither Britain or US recognize Beijing’s territorial claims — which were largely thrown out by an international tribunal last year.