BRITAIN has been branded a "bitch asking for a beating" as UK warships sail into a disputed area of the South China Sea.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth and her carrier group arrived in the disputed waters on Thursday where they'll meet with eight other vessels to continue their dangerous journey.
The move – a show a strength to Chinese President Xi Jinping – has enraged Beijing and led officials to claim Britain was "being a bitch" and "asking for a beating".
Editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times Hu Xijin said China would "make an example" of the British fleet.
"US ships have repeatedly entered the 12-nautical-mile limit of Chinese islets in the South China Sea, and China has exercised maximum restraint," he said.
"But it doesn't mean we will tolerate such provocations for long, and it definitely doesn't mean US allies can imitate Washington's dangerous acts.
"To say it precisely, if the UK wants to play the role to coerce China in the South China Sea, then it is being a bitch. If it has any substantial move, it is asking for a beating."
Beijing later toned down its rhetoric, instead warning Britain was "demeaning itself" by sailing its military ships into areas being claimed by the Communist regime.
The paper also warned Britain was "looking for a defeat" if it dared provoke China and urged countries outside the region to stay away or face "accidental injury".
The threat comes as the HMS Queen Elizabeth continues wargame drills in the contested area.
The £3billion Royal Navy aircraft carrier is taking part in military exercises in the southern reaches of the water, involving eight ships, including three from Singapore.
China claims almost all of the 1.3million square-mile South China Sea as its territory.
In response, the United States and its allies, including the UK, sail warships through the sea in freedom of navigation operations to challenge its claim.
China has already hit out at the move, with one military commentator issuing a warning to Downing Street in state mouthpiece Global Times.
"If the UK wants to provoke the Chinese People's Liberation Army in the South China Sea, it will inevitably lead to strong countermeasures from China,” said Song Zhongping.
“An old saying in China goes that if you want to punish someone, you need to consider saving face for his big brother.
"However, what China will do is just the opposite: China will make it clear to the US that London will be punished by acting like Washington's running dog in provoking Beijing."
This comes as China accuses Washington of "playing with fire" and pledged to "crush" Taiwan if it seeks independence.
Beijing’s sabre rattling comes as its military staged massive drills, widely believed to be simulating assault landings on Taiwan, in a bid to demonstrate its military might.
China regards Taiwan as part of its territory and has long threatened to use force to bring it under its control.
The Chinese warning comes after a US military aircraft landed in Taiwan and the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee called for the island to have its observer status at the World Health Organisation restored.
"Those who play with fire will only burn themselves," Chinese Defence Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said.
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"China must and will be reunited. No one should underestimate the resolve, the will, and the ability of the Chinese people to defend their national sovereignty and territorial integrity."
The People’s Liberation Army has conducted a series of drills in the past years focusing on the embattled island.
According to data collected by the South China Morning Post, China has conducted 20 naval exercises in the first half of the year – while another 13 exercises were carried out in 2020.
What is the dispute in the South China Sea about?
The dispute centres around legal claims to ocean areas and two island chains, the Paracels and the Spratlys, which are thought to be abundant in natural resources.
Every year some £3.8 trillion of trade passes through the dispute area and the United States has been joined by Australia, the UK and France in sailing warships through it to assert freedom of navigation
China has engaged in a massive military build-up in the area, creating a network of artificial islands, which it uses to assert its territorial claim.
It claims that these are part of its national coastline but the United States and the Philippines say that doesn't apply to artificial islands.
China's claim to a 12 mile territorial limit around the islands is not internationally recognised.
Warships from the United States and China have been engaged in tense stand-offs which have threatened to escalate into conflict in the disputed seas.
In January 2020, China reacted with fury after the US sent a missile destroyer through the disputed waters in a direct challenge to Beijing.
China responded by scrambling warships and aircraft to intercept the ship, which sailed within a dozen miles of the increasingly-militarised Paracel Island chain.
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