Expert: China should take tougher actions against UK vessel illegally entering into its territorial waters

China Military Online
Chen Zhuo

By Wang Yunfei, a former naval expert on operations and armaments

The HMS Albion, an amphibious transport dock of the British Royal Navy, illegally sailed into the territorial waters off China's Xisha Islands on August 31. Chinese vessels and aircraft verified and identified the British warship and warned it to leave. Generally speaking, the Chinese Navy has made proper response, but it could take tougher actions against the UK vessel.

Firstly, it is justified. Although the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) stipulates that warships are given the right of innocent passage through the territorial waters of other countries, China made a statement that foreign warships must get permission from the Chinese government before entering Chinese territorial waters as early as in 1995. Now that the British warship chose to ignore it, China of course could give tougher warnings.

Secondly, it is restrained. Proper tough warning doesn't mean direct strike against the vessel. It can demonstrate China’s uncompromising stand, prevent direct armed conflicts, and warn the future intruders.

Actually, the recent British warship incursion provides a rare opportunity for China to test the bottom line of other countries’ so-called “freedom of navigation” in South China Sea.

Of course, not taking tough actions will not reveal China's bottom line on dealing with such issues and avoid intensifying conflicts with relevant countries. But the downside is that it might encourage the insatiability of some countries.

In brief, it is suggested that the Chinese Navy should take tougher actions when such incidents happen again.

Disclaimer: The author is Wang Yunfei, a former naval expert on operations and armaments. The article is extracted from an article on and translated from Chinese into English by the China Military online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same. If the article carries photographs or images, we do not vouch for their authenticity.


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