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27 Sep, 2021 14:30

Shouldn’t Britain focus on its ‘difficult winter’? Chinese state media trolls UK as HMS Richmond transits Taiwan Strait

Shouldn’t Britain focus on its ‘difficult winter’? Chinese state media trolls UK as HMS Richmond transits Taiwan Strait

The outspoken editor of the Global Times has taken aim at the UK, highlighting Britain’s internal issues such as fuel shortages, as a British naval vessel sailed through the disputed Taiwan Strait, provoking China.

On Monday morning, the UK Defence Journal, an independent military journal, posted on its Twitter account, sharing a story about Royal Navy vessel HMS Richmond transiting through the Taiwan Strait “to demonstrate freedom of navigation.” The journal claimed the move was “likely to anger Beijing,” as Beijing believes the island of Taiwan is inseparable from mainland China and says it has territorial rights to the waters between the two nations. 

And it wasn’t long before Beijing responded. While the Chinese military condemned the British voyage as “malicious,” Hu Xijin, the outspoken editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times, was slightly more cutting with his remarks. 

Hu questioned why Britain was sending a Royal Navy vessel to “provoke China at a time when Britain is warned to face a ‘difficult winter’ with gasoline shortages and sky-high energy prices,” referencing the UK’s panic-buying-induced fuel shortages and gas crisis. “Doesn’t UK feel frustrated and diffident when making such a provocation?” he added. 

The British military journal hit back pretty swiftly, reinforcing the UK’s narrative that the strait is part of international waters. “If sailing through international waters provokes China then that seems more like a you problem,” they wrote

The UK has angered China on a number of occasions in 2021, with its carrier strike group, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, as well as other vessels, transiting to the Indo-Pacific in a show of strength and to reinforce its commitment to partner nations. 

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But while Britain shows off its might overseas, the country is suffering from fuel shortages, induced by a lack of lorry drivers and compounded by panic-buying at the pumps. The UK has also been hit by sky-high gas prices, with many small household providers going out of business. High gas prices have had knock-on effects – such as a shortage of carbon dioxide, which is used in the preparation and packaging of meat. Some people have warned of a “difficult winter” ahead and said the impact may be catastrophic for the world’s fifth-largest economy.

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