The Next South China Sea Crisis: China vs. Britain and France?

    Michael Peck

    Security, Asia

    Could this get any worse? The answer is yes. 

    First Britain, now France. Is China on a collision course with the navies of Western Europe, as well as America?

    French defense minister Florence Parly has just announced that its warships, alongside British vessels and helicopters, would sail through the South China Sea—waters claimed by China.

    “Without naming China, she suggested the warships will cross into ‘territorial waters’ claimed by Beijing and envisioned a potential encounter with its military,” according to the South China Morning Post.

    “At some point a stern voice intrudes into the transponder and tells us to sail away from supposedly ‘territorial waters’,” Parly stated at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue conference in Singapore. “But our commander then calmly replies that he will sail forth, because these, under international law, are indeed international waters.”

    Earlier this year, a British frigate sailed through the South China Sea. More significantly, last year Britain announced that its new Queen Elizabeth-class carriers will sail there once they are completed in the early 2020s.

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