Britain to Conduct Freedom of Navigation Exercises in South China Sea

UNITED NEWS INTERNATIONAL (UNI) — Britain announced plans to conduct freedom of navigation exercises in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, drawing swift criticism from China.

On July 27, British foreign secretary Boris Johnson said that one of the first thing the country plans to do with its two new aircraft carriers is to conduct these exercises “to vindicate our belief in the rules-based international system and in the freedom of navigation through those waterways which are absolutely vital for world trade.”

The announcement drew criticism from Beijing.

Asked by reporters about Britain’s plans, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that countries like Britain “insist on stirring up trouble while the situation is trending toward calm in the South China Sea.”

Britain’s move could upset ties between London and Beijing. China has strongly objected to repeated freedom of navigation missions by the U.S. Navy.