This is the first such passage by a British naval vessel since late 2019.
Britain’s HMS Richmond passed through the narrow body of water that separates China and Taiwan on Monday on its way to Vietnam, the Twitter account associated with the warship said.
“After a busy period working with partners and allies in the East China Sea, we are now en route through the Taiwan Strait to visit #Vietnam and the Vietnam People’s Navy,” HMS Richmond’s Twitter account said.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence said that the country’s military is “monitoring the area and is on top of the situation there.”
Tony Radakin, a senior Royal Navy admiral had earlier said that it was important to maintain freedom of navigation in the Taiwan Strait. He told Nikkei in an interview earlier this month that the UK will station two new patrol vessels in the Indo-Pacific region for “at least the next five years.” This is a part of the plans led by the US and its allies to control China’s naval expansion.
Admiral Radakin had stressed that it is “very clear that the Taiwan Strait is international waters,” adding that “it is a waterway that can be used by different nations.”
China’s People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theatre Command on Monday said that it warned HMS Richmond and that it organised air and naval forces to follow it. It said: “This kind of behaviour harbours evil intentions and damages peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”
It added that “theatre command forces always maintain a high level of alert and resolutely counter all threats and provocations.”
Meanwhile, the Taiwan Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said that “when they pass through the Taiwan Strait our nation’s military will have a grasp of the situation, but will not interfere.”