Chinese state-run media has blasted London for its plans to send a warship through the disputed South China Sea next month, saying that "by acting tough against China, Britain's Ministry of Defence is trying to validate its existence and grab attention."

British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said Tuesday during a visit to Australia that the HMS Sutherland anti-submarine frigate would conduct a freedom of navigation patrol through the strategic waterway as Britain, the U.S., Australia and other countries look to "assert our values" there.

The tabloid Global Times newspaper, known for its strident nationalist stance, said Williamson needed to state clearly the purpose of the mission.