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France sends warships to South China Sea in ‘alarming’ move

FRANCE is sending warships to strengthen its presence across the South China Sea in what has been described as an “alarming” move.

The French navy confirmed that assault ship Toner and frigate Surcouf had set sail from Toulon on Thursday and would take part in a combined exercise with the Japanese and US in May as part of a three-month mission.

Dean of the South China Sea Institute at Xiamen University Fu Kuncheng said China needed to consider how to respond to the incursion, including lodging a complaint with the UN. 

“It’s clear that the US hopes to combine with its Nato allies to show off their muscles in the South China Sea with exercises and so-called freedom of navigation [operations],” Mr Fu said

“When these countries advocate freedom of navigation, China should send warships to accompany them. But if they enter territorial waters claimed by China, we must protest in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.” 

The sea is a heavily disputed zone with China, Vietnam and the Philippines all claiming overlapping territories in the modern era while Western powers demand a “right to free navigation.”      

The US navy sent aircraft carriers the USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Nimitz into the South China Sea, accompanied by other warships, last Tuesday. 


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