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China Slams UK for Harbouring 'Evil Intentions' After British Warship Sails Through Taiwan Strait

Sputnik News

Svetlana Ekimenko

Earlier on Monday, the official Twitter account of warship HMS Richmond posted a picture of the vessel navigating the contentious Taiwan Strait after "a busy period working with partners and allies in the East China Sea."

China slammed Britain for its "evil intentions" after a Royal Navy frigate sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Monday.

"This kind of behaviour harbours evil intentions and damages peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait," the People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theatre Command was cited as saying by Chinese state media People's Daily.

In its Twitter post, the outlet added that China's air and naval forces had been ordered to "follow and warn" HMS Richmond as it proceeded on its way to Vietnam.

"Theatre command forces always maintain a high level of alert and resolutely counter all threats and provocations," the outlet cited Beijing authorities as underscoring.

The irate Chinese response followed a post on the official Twitter account of British warship HMS Richmond. The Type 23 frigate of the Royal Navy, which is part of the UK's Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21) led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, announced that it was passing through the Taiwan Strait on its way to Vietnam.

HMS Richmond also made reference to a "busy period working with partners and allies in the East China Sea" after being deployed to participate in the United Nation's sanctions enforcement operations against North Korea.

"HMS Richmond is navigating the Taiwan Strait in accordance with international law to the next destination. Wherever the Royal Navy operate, they do so in full compliance with international laws and norms, and exercise their rights to freedom of navigation and overflight provided by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). HMS Richmond is no exception," stated the UK Ministry of Defence.

The developments come amid heightened tensions between China and Taiwan, which has its own constitution, military, and democratically-elected government. Taiwan split from the mainland during a civil war that resulted in the Communist Party taking control in 1949.

Beijing continues to view the island as a breakaway province, while the authorities in Taipei have persistently rejected China's proposal for "one country, two systems." The latter envisages a peaceful unification of Taiwan with mainland China. Tensions between The People's Republic of China on one side and the US and its allies on the other have been flaring over two contentious issues: the status of Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Beijing has repeatedly condemned Washington over its perceived meddling in the affairs of Taiwan, which it considers an integral part of China. Beijing lays claim to wide swathes of strategic and resource-rich maritime territory in the South China Sea, with other countries, such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines laying down contesting claims of their own.

The US, which is not a party to the territorial dispute – while displaying support to claimants other than China – regularly sails its warships through the region.

In late August, Beijing denounced Washington for "undermining stability" in the Taiwan Strait after two US warships passed through. The American Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, USS Barry's recent transit through the Taiwan Strait was similarly lambasted as a "provocation" that shows that "it [Washington] is the destroyer of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, and a security risk creator in the region," according to Shi Yi, a spokesperson for the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Recent tensions in the South China Sea have been ratcheted up after the announcement of a new security pact between Australia, the UK, and US called AUKUS. Albeit not mentioning China by name, the alliance is seen as part of a strategy to offset China's assertiveness in the contested South China Sea region. Beijing denounced the three-way security pact as "extremely irresponsible." The alliance risked "severely damaging regional peace... and intensifying the arms race," said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian.

© Sputnik

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