British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said yesterday the ship would pass through the region as part of a freedom-of-navigation operation designed to send a message to China.
Armed forces officials first flagged the voyage six months ago and the journey is likely to stoke tensions with China, who claim control of most of the area and have built military facilities on land features in the sea.
One Chinese official has now sent a dire warning to Britain ahead of the proposed trip.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said countries in the region were working together and Britain risked destabilising the situation.
He said: “We see other countries who insist on stirring up trouble while the situation is heading towards calm in the South China Sea.
“Whatever banners these countries or officials claim to uphold, and whatever excuses they say they have, their track record of bringing chaos and humanitarian disasters through their so-called moral interventions in other parts of the world is enough to make nations and peoples in the region maintain high vigilance.”
And a state-run newspaper, which essentially act as an official mouthpiece for President Xi, warned Britain to back off.
The Global Times said: “If not provocation, the Royal Navy should behave modestly when passing through the South China Sea.
“By acting tough against China, Britain’s Ministry of Defence is trying to validate its existence and grab attention.”
China has repeatedly accused countries outside the region – generally a reference to the United States and Japan – of trying to provoke trouble in the South China Sea while China and its neighbours are trying to resolve the matter through diplomacy.
Speaking of Britain’s plan, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it hoped “relevant sides don’t try to create trouble out of nothing”.