China Denounces UK’s Plan to Sail Aircraft Carrier Into South China Sea

Britain's defense minister said it would sail new warship into the disputed waters as part of Pacific deployment

On Thursday, Beijing warned the UK against a plan to sail a new British aircraft carrier through the South China Sea.

In 2019, then-UK Defense Minister Gavin Williamson announced that the HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first operational mission will include a passage in the disputed South China Sea.

China’s Defense Ministry Spokesman Tan Kefei was asked about London’s plan on Thursday. “The Chinese side believes that the South China Sea should not become a sea of great power rivalry dominated by weapons and warships,” he said.

Since 2015, the US has sailed warships into the South China Sea to challenge Beijing’s claims in maneuvers called Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs). In 2020, the US carried out nine FONOPs in the disputed waters, the most in a single year since the operations started.

The US also carried out massive naval drills with aircraft carrier strike groups several times throughout the year and has stepped up military surveillance flights in the region.

According to Japan’s Kyodo News, the HMS Queen Elizabeth is also expected to drill with the US and Japan in waters near Japan sometime in 2021.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.