CHINA’S state-run media has issued a blistering attack on Britain following its announcement of an upcoming voyage in the South China Sea.
Earlier this week, British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed a Type 23 frigate of the British Royal Navy would enter the contested waters, in part to demonstrate that the sea was international.
The Global Times newspaper accused Britain of trying to be a “core” nation on the global stage in the wake of Brexit.
In an editorial entitled “Williamson wags limp finger at China”, the newspaper said Britain was “double-faced” with its Beijing policy.
“It’s eager to deepen trade and economic co-operation with China but meanwhile never forgets its identity as a so-called ‘noble’ Western country.
“Britain sometimes acts capriciously against China out of fear that it may be marginalised after Brexit.”
It also issued a warning to Britain and its allies — which include Australia — saying “Beijing is aware and adapting” to “typical Western diplomacy” towards China.
“By acting tough against China, Britain’s Ministry of Defence is trying to validate its existence and grab attention.”
The editorial called on Mr Williamson to confirm whether this is intended as a military provocation against China or not, before issuing a final threat: “If Williamson insists on challenging China, it seems Beijing has to respond.”
When he announced the voyage earlier this week, Mr Williamson did not specify whether the frigate would come within 12 nautical miles of a Chinese artificial island.
However, he did say it was important that the US, Britain, Australia and other countries “assert our values” in the South China Sea, adding that Australia needs to step up its game in the region.
Britain will be leaving the European Union next year and has looked to China as one of the countries where it wants to sign a free trade deal.
The prime minister, Theresa May, wrapped up a largely successful trip to China earlier this month.