South China Sea row: British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth ignores Chinese threats

South China Sea conflict would be ‘disastrous’ says Hayton

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One of the UK’s advanced flagship aircraft carriers, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, has sailed into the contested maritime region heedless of the vocal threats from China. Referring to the passage of the British ships Chinese defence spokesman Tan Kefei spoke to the South China Morning Post and said: “The Chinese side believes that the should not become a sea of great power rivalry dominated by weapons and warships. The real source of militarisation in the South China Sea comes from countries outside this region sending their warships thousands of kilometres from home to flex muscles.

“The Chinese military will take necessary measures to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interest.

“It will also take measures to promote peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

The ship is leading a carrier strike group and has entered the South China Sea region which has been largely claimed by China, within their ‘nine-dash line’.

The British carrier recently left Singapore along with escort vessels.

China has warned British ships not enter the South China Sea

China has warned British ships not enter the South China Sea (Image: GETTY)

Beijing’s ‘nine-dash line’ claim encompasses almost all of the South China Sea.

This territory measures 1.3 million-square-miles and Bejing has denounced the presence of foreign warships there, stating they are the cause of tensions in the region.

China’s ‘nine-dash line’ extends southward for over 2,000 kilometres from the Chinese mainland.

However, in a historic decision in 2016, an international tribunal met at The Hague and ruled against China’s claim to the maritime territory.

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President of China Xi Jinping

President of China Xi Jinping (Image: Express)

Military might of China

Military might of China (Image: Express)

Frequently, the US will conduct freedom of navigation operations through the South China Sea to challenge what Washington calls “attempts by coastal states to unlawfully restrict access to the seas”.

In 1935 the Chinese government produced a map of this contested maritime region called; “Map of Chinese Islands in the South China Sea”.

The map had eleven dashes on it marking Beijing’s claim.

However, in 1949 the Chinese government dropped their claim of the Gulf of Tonkin off Vietnam, taking the dashes down to nine.

China is building artificial fortified islands within the South China Sea territory.

The state that these constructions are in accordance with article 56 of the United Nations Conventions and Laws of the Sea.

Beijing states that only they have the exclusive right to exploit the resources and build artificial islands within the South China Sea.

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