CHINA has ferociously condemned Britain for sending a warship into the Taiwan Strait.

Beijing said the UK’s behaviour “harboured evil intentions”. This was after the UK’s HMS Richmond passed through the strait en route to Vietnam. The Chinese military then followed the vessel as it passed through the contentious sea route.

Defence editor at The Times Larisa Brown described the incident as “extremely unusual”.

Today she tweeted: “Extremely unusual for the Royal Navy to send a frigate or destroyer through the Taiwan Strait.

“Last time was HMS Kent in 2008.

“Survey ship went through in 2019.”

The UK ship was deployed in the East China Sea while taking part in UN sanctions enforcement operations against North Korea.

Beijing claims Taiwan is its own territory and has stepped up military and political pressure under the leadership of president Xi Jinping.

The democratically ruled Taiwan has been armed by the US against the threat from China.

US warships pass through the Taiwan Strait on an almost monthly basis.

This is despite the regular outcry from China.

However, US allies have been reluctant to follow suit.

The People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command said it had deployed its air and naval forces to follow the British ship.

The Chinese military said: “This kind of behaviour harbours evil intentions and damages peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

“Theatre command forces always maintain a high level of alert and resolutely counter all threats and provocations.”

The Taiwanese Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said he did not know the details of foreign ships passing through the Taiwan Strait.

Speaking to reporters he said that foreign ships “pass through the Taiwan Strait and our nation’s military will have a grasp of the situation.

“But, they will not interfere.”

China has been ramping up its exercises around Taiwan.

This has involved the Chinese air force conducting almost daily flights into the southwestern part of Taiwan’s air defence zone.