UK Defense Minister Gavin Williamson is pushing his country’s decision to send a warship to the South China Sea next month. A measure that will undoubtedly provoke the anger and rejection of Beijing, claiming the strategic waters of this sea as its own.
While visiting Australia, Williamson made his remarks during the interviews given to the Australian press.
Williamson said on Monday that HMS Sutherland, a British Royal Navy anti-submarine frigate, would cross the South China Sea on his return from Australia to claim the UK’s rights to freedom of navigation.
“He will sail through the South China Sea and make it clear that our navy has the right to do so,” Williamson said in an Australian newspaper after a two-day visit to Sydney and Canberra.
The British Defense Minister also expressed satisfaction with the controversial and increased presence of US warships in the region.
“We fully support the US approach, so we definitely support what Washington has done,” he insisted.
The US Navy continues, under the presidency of Donald Trump, to perform so-called “freedom of navigation” missions in the near perimeter of artificial islands built by China, as it did under his predecessor, Barack Obama.
A US ship has angered China by passing, in May, near an island claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea, first clash in relations between the two countries since the meeting between Presidents Xi and Trump in April in Florida.
China’s sovereignty over the Spratley Archipelago and adjacent waters is “indisputable,” Beijing insists, contradicting the claims of other countries bordering the South China Sea, a strategic area that would harbor vast reserves of gas and oil.
China has been engaged in recent years in the construction of artificial islands and potential military bases on tiny reefs. Constructions challenged by the United States.
The British Defense Minister said that “it is important for us that our allies such as the United States and Australia support our interests in the China Sea, which have the most important trade routes as resources. oil and gas, whose annual transportation is worth $ 5 trillion.
Insisting that global developments remain very “dynamic” he adds that the American ally can not focus on several localities at once, so it is important, he said, to leave the opportunity other countries such as Great Britain and Australia, to intervene and develop their leadership in the world.
The British minister then warned against “the ambitions of China rising to super power” before inviting his interlocutor to be “vigilant” to ensure “national interests”.
That’s not all, he warned: “We also face other challenges, namely” Russia and Iran “.
“So we need a security strategy that can ensure our vital national infrastructure,” he said.
In recent years, Washington has increased its military presence in Asian waters by claiming its right to free navigation. China, the Asian giant, which claims almost the entire South China Sea, has accused the United States of destabilizing the area and seeking to dominate the waters.
Although Beijing has not yet reacted to London’s decision, it appears that its position will be the same as in July, when former British Defense Minister Michael Fallon promised to send a military ship to the China Sea to perform exercises.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang responded at the time in London, accusing him of “creating problems” in the region.
“Whatever the flag of these countries or whatever pretexts they make, their dubious record of provoking chaos and humanitarian disasters in other parts of the world with their bloody and illegal interventions are enough for the nations and the people of the region remain very vigilant, “warned Lu Kang.