BEIJING (TIP): Responding to what it says are provocative plans for stepped-up US-Philippine military cooperation, China says it will “resolutely defend” its interests and accuses the two longstanding allies of militarizing the region and harboring a “Cold War mentality.”
The ministry’s comments came shortly after Thursday’s announcement that the US would send troops and planes to the Philippines for more frequent rotations and will increase joint sea and air patrols with Philippine forces in the South China Sea.
In a move likely to further anger Beijing, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter says he will be visiting an aircraft carrier — a potent symbol of US military might — in the South China Sea during his current visit to the region, which does not include a stop in China.
“The joint patrols between the United States and the Philippines in the South China Sea are militarizing the region and are non-beneficial to regional peace and stability,” said a statement posted to the ministry’s website late Thursday.
“The Chinese military will pay close attention to the situation, and resolutely defend China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime interests,” the statement said.
China claims virtually the entire South China Sea as its territory and is building manmade islands there topped with airstrips and other infrastructure. The Philippines, Vietnam and others also claim territory controlled or claimed by China and increased military and coast guard deployments by all sides could increase the potential for conflict.
The ministry’s statement also referenced China’s long-standing opposition to US military alliances in the region. It regards those as a form of unwelcome interference that stymies its desired status as the pre-eminent military power in the Asia-Pacific.