China cries foul against US-Philippines joint patrols in South China Sea

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China has expressed “resolute opposition” to the US-Philippines joint patrols in the South China Sea, saying the harmful move will flare regional contradictions and damage peace and stability in the disputed territory. China’s Defence Ministry denounced that the US and Philippines’ plans to step up bilateral military cooperation, accusing both countries of militarising the region. The Chinese Foreign Ministry made China’s stance clear after the Pentagon said that US-Philippine joint patrols in the South China Sea will occur regularly. The ministry said China expresses “resolute opposition against infringement of China’s sovereignty and security by any country in any form”.

“The military exchanges … should not target a third party, not to mention supporting some countries to provoke China’s sovereignty and security, flaring regional contradictions and damaging regional peace and stability,” the Foreign Ministry told ‘China Daily’. The US has announced that there will be more frequent troop and plane deployments to the Philippines. The US also intends to increase joint sea and air patrols with Philippine forces in the South China Sea.

The US Navy said that they sending most advanced warfighting platforms to the region, including multi-mission ballistic missile defense-capable ships, submarines, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. “The joint patrols between the United States and the Philippines in the South China Sea are militarising the region and are non-beneficial to regional peace and stability,” said a statement posted on the Chinese foreign ministry’s website.

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter has said that he will be visiting an aircraft carrier, a powerful symbol of US military strength, in the South China Sea during his current visit to the region. This move will definitely make China uncomfortable. China claims almost the entire South China Sea as its territory and is building artificial islands there along with airports and other infrastructure. The Philippines, Vietnam and others also claim territory claimed by China. Increased military deployments in the region by all sides could increase the possibility for conflict.

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