British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said the HMS Sutherland warship would sail past the disputed area on the way home from Australia. The anti-submarine military action was to affirm the freedom of navigation rights.
"He will sail past the South China Sea and make clear that our Navy has the right to do that," he told The Australian newspaper after a two-day visit to Sydney and Canberra.
China claims almost all strategic waters in the South China Sea. However, Taiwan Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam also have overlapping claims.
China itself is developing its military capabilities by strengthening and building infrastructure on the disputed islands that generate more than $ 5 trillion annually from world ship traffic.
Beijing was angry several times with patrols under the pretext of upholding the freedom of navigation previously conducted by the United States Navy (USA). China responded by sending warships to face patrols of US Navy ships.
Not long ago, US warships patrolled within 12 nautical miles of disputed territory or artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea. The distance is internationally recognized as a territorial boundary.
Williamson will not say whether the British frigate will sail within 12 nautical miles as did the US warships.
"(However) we really support the US approach on this matter, we are very supportive of what the US has done," he said.
Richard Bitzinger, a regional defense expert at Singapore's S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said the international community was powerless to react to China's firmness in the region despite the difficult words spoken by Britain.
"It's all huff-and-puff, and everything remains the same," he said.
"The fact is China has created a business that suits these islands. The South China Sea is part of a strategic national interest, and therefore China's presence in the South China Sea is permanent and may be hegemonic. Few people can do it, "he added.
Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said Australian, New Zealand, Japanese and possibly French naval vessels had sailed through the waters, but most countries remained silent about such operations.
There are navy other than the US Navy sailing past the South China Sea, but they do not guarantee the freedom of navigation operations, "Glaser told The Telegraph on Tuesday (13/2/2018).
"I doubt any other country besides the US is sailing within 12 miles," he said.
Glaser said he doubted China would be angry with this low-cost "transit patrol" type. Nevertheless, Beijing sharply criticized Britain last summer when it first raised the prospect of freedom of navigation patrol.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he wanted to send a new British Navy aircraft carrier into the South China Sea. Meanwhile, former defense minister Sir Michael Fallon said that Britain would use the right to navigate the South China Sea.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that countries involved in territorial disputes have "cooperated" to maintain peace.
"But we see other countries that insist on causing problems as the situation is heading for calm in the South China Sea," Lu said in a regional briefing.