- France, Britain to Sail Warships in Contested South China Sea to Challenge Beijing
by Liu Zhen, http://www.scmp.com/frontpage/hk
Defence ministers tell security forum they are contributing to rule-based order.
France and Britain will sail warships through the South China Sea to challenge Beijing’s expanding military presence in the disputed waters, their defence ministers said on Sunday.
The two countries, both permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, made the remarks at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, echoing the latest US plan to ramp up its freedom of navigation operations to counter Beijing’s militarisation in the region and its stance that territorial disputes should be a matter between China and its Asian neighbours.
A French maritime task group, together with British helicopters and ships, will visit Singapore next week and then sail “into certain areas” of the South China Sea, French armed forces minister Florence Parly told the annual defence forum.
Without naming China, she suggested the warships will cross into “territorial waters” claimed by Beijing and envisioned a potential encounter with its military. “At some point a stern voice intrudes into the transponder and tells us to sail away from supposedly ‘territorial waters’,” she said. “But our commander then calmly replies that he will sail forth, because these, under international law, are indeed international waters.”