After Admiral Harry B. Harris, chief of the US Pacific Command, announced joint naval exercises with Japan and India in the northern waters of the Philippine Sea, China expressed concerns at the development saying it hopes that this will not harm interest of third parties. In an official statement China’s Foreign Ministry Hong Lei said: “We hope that cooperation among relevant countries will contribute to regional peace, stability and security, and no harm shall be done to the interests of third parties.”
Many analysts see this move by the three countries as united support for the Philippines. “The US aims to show its military presence through the exercises to further press China in the Asia-Pacific and to demonstrate that it does not acknowledge China’s position on the South China Sea issue,” Zha Xiaogang, a research fellow at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, said.
Japan became a part of the joint naval exercises with India and US in 2015 after a gap of seven years. The growing alliance between the three countries has rattled China, which has alleged external interference in the region led by the US. China, which is having disputes with its neighbours in South China Sea, has been watching the latest developments between the three countries closely.
China keeps expressing its displeasure at regular intervals, whenever there has been a significant development among the three countries. With the US having a strong naval presence in Asia-Pacific, it has been working towards strengthening alliances with India and Japan to negate China’s hegemony. US had recently sent its naval ships close to the disputed territory. This has further escalated China’s insecurity fears.
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