The amphibious assault ship is deployed in the region
The Royal Navy has defended HMS Albion’s entry into the South China Sea last week.
The appearance of the amphibious warship so close to the disputed Paracel Islands was denounced as a “provocation” by Beijing.
A spokesperson for the Royal Navy dismissed the claim, stating: "HMS Albion exercised her rights for freedom of navigation in full compliance with international law and norms."
In a statement the Chinese Foreign Ministry said:
"The relevant actions by the British ship violated Chinese law and relevant international law, and infringed on China's sovereignty. China strongly opposes this and has lodged stern representations with the British side to express strong dissatisfaction.
“China strongly urges the British side to immediately stop such provocative actions, to avoid harming the broader picture of bilateral relations and regional peace and stability.”
Reports suggest that the Chinese dispatched a frigate and two helicopters which peacefully confronted Albion.
The UK vessel is on its way to Japan where it will undergo a number of training exercises with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force.
China’s sovereignty claims over the South China Sea are hotly contested by the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan but Beijing zealously upholds its territorial claim to the area.
In March this of this year the Chinese Navy conducted a show of military strength in the region with over 40 ships deployed.