While having the choice to steer clear of the Paracel Islands, Captain Tim Neild reportedly chose to demonstrate the UK's objection to China's "excessive claims" in the region, an anonymous source Reuters.
It is at least the second time this year that the Royal Navy has performed sail-bys close to - but not within - the 12-nautical- mile territorial zone China claims around the features it occupies in the waters.
The Paracels are occupied entirely by China, but also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.
China's the Foreign Ministry alleges Albion entered Chinese territorial waters around the Paracel Islands without permission.
China's foreign ministry said: "The Chinese side strongly urges the British side to immediately stop taking such kinds of provocative actions". "China strongly opposes this and has lodged stern representations with the British side to express strong dissatisfaction", the ministry said.
China urged the United Kingdom to immediately stop such provocations to avoid harming overall bilateral relations as well as regional peace and stability, she added.
Ren added that the Chinese military will take all necessary measures to resolutely defend the country's national security and sovereignty.
State-owned China Daily weighed in: "During her visit to Beijing early this year, British Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to intensify "the golden era" of Sino-UK relations".
The China Daily said Britain was trying to "curry favour" with the United States, which has been pushing for greater worldwide participation in freedom of navigation operations in the strategic waterway.
While the U.S. Navy has conducted Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) in the same area in the past, this British challenge to China's growing control of the strategic waterway comes after the United States has said it would like to see more global participation in such actions.
"We have a strong relationship with China. It might also nudge other USA allies to make similar moves".
It has recently been building extensive reclamations of reefs and islands, as well as constructing runways, hangers and missile systems on the islands.
In an editorial - titled "UK should try and have more than one friend" - the paper accused Britain of carrying out the maneuver to try and curry favour with the Trump administration ahead of Brexit by provoking China.
In June, the UK Defence Secretary announced HMS Albion would be one of three warships being deployed to the area "to send the strongest of signals" to countries that "don't play by the rules".
The Chinese navy warned the HMS Albion, a 22,000 ton amphibious warship, to leave the area.
China's first home-built aircraft carrier sets out from a port of Dalian DSIC (Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co.) Shipyard for sea trials on May 13, 2018.