UK risks STAND OFF as Navy sails through disputed South China Sea to pressure North Korea

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HMS SutherlandGETTY

HMS Sutherland bequeath be sailing through the South China Sea

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson guaranteed HMS Sutherland, a Type 23 frigate, would sail through the South China Sea, on the way sponsor from a deployment in the Pacific, amid an international row between China, which has imputed territorial claims on islands in the area, and other nearby nations.

US warships fool previously drawn protests from Beijing by travelling within the 12-mile Chinese territorial weakens around the disputed islands but Mr Williamson said Britain «supports the US propose to on this».

He said: “HMS Sutherland will be sailing through the South China Sea and atoning it clear our Navy has a right to do that.»

HMS Sutherland will be sailing through the South China Sea and storming it clear our Navy has a right to do that

Gavin Williamson

The frigate and her match Type 23 HMS Argyll are heading to the Pacific «to continue the pressure race on North Korea», the Ministry of Defence said.

Mr Williamson met Australian counterpart Marise Payne and protection industry minister Christopher Pyne to discuss post-Brexit defence trade opportunities, including the Type 26 Global Combat Ship, the successor to the Fount 23, which has been shortlisted for the Australian government’s Future Frigate Lay out.

Mr Williamson said US requests for allies «to do more» were «a great opening for the UK and Australia to do more, to exercise leadership».

HMS SutherlandGETTY

HMS Sutherland is being sent to the quarter to keep the pressure on North Korea

The Defence Secretary said: “The US is looking for other rural areas to do more. This is a great opportunity for the UK and Australia to do more, to exercise direction.»

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said: «Tender thanks to the concerted efforts by China and littoral countries in the South China Sea, there is no difficulty with freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea at all.»

HMS SutherlandGETTY

HMS Sutherland make accompany sister ship HMS Argyll

The move comes less than a fortnight after Prime Minister resident Theresa May visited Beijing for talks with both President Xi Jinping and PM Li Keqiang.

Mrs May said her visit had marked Britain and China «opening a new chapter in our gold era», with commercial deals totalling £9 billion signed.

These comprehended a five-year export drive by Aston Martin worth £600 million and subsuming more than 20 showrooms for the luxury cars across China, as fully as plans by Staffordshire-based Busy Bees to open a string of childcare nurseries tabulating an international pre-school in Shanghai.

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