China Condemns U.K.'s 'Evil Intentions' With Taiwan Strait Warship Mission

China accused the U.K. of "harboring evil intentions" in the East China Sea on Monday, after a British frigate crossed the Taiwan Strait earlier today and a Chinese military ship warned it away.

China claims Taiwan as its own territory and has been upping the pressure for the island to accept Chinese sovereignty, moves that have been condemned by the U.S. and the U.K.

HMS Richmond, a Type 23 ASW frigate deployed with the Carrier Strike Group, posted about the move on its official Twitter account.

"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," the tweet said, with an accompanying photo.

In response, the People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theatre Command said it has organized air and naval forces to follow the Richmond and warn it against traveling through those waters.

"This kind of behavior harbors evil intentions and damages peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait," it said. "Theatre command forces always maintain a high level of alert and resolutely counter all threats and provocations."

Responding to Richmond's mission, East China's Zhejiang Maritime Safety Administration said military training will be held in parts of the East China Sea from September 28 to 29.

In a statement to Newsweek, a spokesperson for the British Navy said: "HMS Richmond has navigated the Taiwan Strait, sailing from Japan to Vietnam. Wherever the Royal Navy operate, they do so in full compliance with international law.

"The UK has a range of enduring security interests in the Indo-Pacific and many important bilateral defence relationships, this deployment is a sign of our commitment to regional security."

Taiwan's defense minister Chiu Kuo-cheng did not comment on the British warship's movements directly when asked about it. "When they pass through the Taiwan Strait our nation's military will have a grasp of the situation, but will not interfere," he told reporters.

Newsweek has contacted the British Foreign Ministry for comment. Newsweek has also contacted the Chinese ministry of defense for comment.

Already strained relations between London and Beijing faced further pressure last week, when the U.K. announced that it was working with the U.S. to share its highly sensitive propulsion technology with Australia to help its navy field its first fleet of eight nuclear-powered submarines.

The agreement, dubbed AUKUS, drew the ire of Beijing. China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said AUKUS "undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race."

He suggested the security pact could "harm the interests of third parties by building exclusionary blocs" and warned the three countries risked "shooting oneself in the foot."

On Sunday, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that relations between Beijing and Taipei were "grim" and urged Taiwan's main opposition party to help unify the country with China.

HMS Richmond fires cannon
A gun salute is fired from HMS Richmond to mark the opening of the British Royal Navy's HMS Alliance, the only surviving British WWII era submarine, on April 3, 2014. Richmond's movements on the Taiwan Strait has provoked anger from Beijing. Glyn Kirk/Getty