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27 July 2017

Royal Navy set to send WARSHIP to South China Sea as row erupts between the US and China over a warplanes near-miss

THE UK plans to send a WARSHIP through the disputed South China Sea next year as tensions mount between the US and Beijing following a warplanes near-miss.

Defence Minister Michael Fallon said the UK could increase its naval presence in the region when it sends four fighter planes for joint exercises with Japan.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon
Michael Fallon has spoken about how Britain will not shy away from sending a warship through the South China Sea
Reuters
Are ships being tracked? The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey prepares for a replenishment-at-sea in the South China Sea on May 19
The missile destroyer USS Dewey sailed within just 12 miles of one of the islands in the South China Sea on May 19
Reuters
Picture of Chinese defensive guns on its ‘man-made island’ in the South China Sea emerged recently
Reuters
US Navy accuses Beijing of trying to militarise the South China Sea

China claims most of the energy-rich sea but its neighbours Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also say they own parts of the water.

The US and China are at loggerheads over the area as their war planes were involved in a near miss in the East China Sea on Monday.

The UK’s proposed naval move threatens its current positive relationship with the economic powerhouse.

Earlier this month China’s President Xi Jinping told Thersea May that his country’s decision to invest billions in the British economy since the Brexit vote “shows how much confidence they have”.

Speaking this week Defence Minister Fallon told Reuters: “We hope to send a warship to (the) region next year.

“We have not finalised exactly where that deployment will take place but we won’t be constrained by China from sailing through the South China Sea.

“We have the right of freedom of navigation and we will exercise it.

China have been seen conducting military exercises over disputed islands in the South China Sea
China and Vietnam each claim large areas of the sea, which is resource rich with fish and oil
Reuters
Theresa May meeting President Xi last year. China's leader has given his country's full support for Britain's EU talks
PA:Press Association
The Royal Navy's HMS Montrose. Next year a warship could be sent to the disputed South China Sea, which could anger the communist powerhouse
Royal Navy
China planning secret underwater ‘observation station’ in the South China Sea to monitor ships and aircraft

“We flew RAF Typhoons through the South China Sea last October and we will exercise that right whenever we next have the opportunity to do so, whenever we have ships or planes in the region.”

An estimated $5 trillion worth of goods are transported through South China Sea shipping lanes each year – and it has vast oil and gas deposits.

China has been accused of militarising the sea to further its strategic power by building man made islands.

The United States estimates Beijing has added more than 3,200 acres (1,300 hectares) on seven features in the South China Sea over the past three years, building runways, ports, aircraft hangars and communications equipment.

This Chinese warship was pictured with jets on board as it travelled back from a military exercise in the contested South China Sea
Getty Images

Beijing insists it will not interfere with merchant shipping or flights over the sea, and claimed “there was no such thing” as the islands, despite satellite images showing otherwise.

The US wants the territory to remain as international water.

In May, an American warship sailed within 12 miles of one of the reported islands.

On Monday, a US Navy spy plane was also involved in a dramatic near miss with two Chinese fighter jets over the East China Sea – following  a shocking incident in the same location in February .

This area requires aircraft to declare their flight plans to Chinese monitors but the States refuses to recognise the zone.


 


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