January 5, 2024
BEIJING – Beijing condemned on Thursday a two-day joint naval drill by the United States and the Philippines in the South China Sea, saying the muscle-flexing will have an adverse effect on the management of the situation in the region.
The US-Philippines “maritime cooperative activity” ran from Wednesday to Thursday, according to the Philippine News Agency, the Philippine government’s official news agency.
The “military provocation” will not help to control maritime disputes, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a daily news briefing on Thursday.
“China urges relevant countries to stop irresponsible behavior, and effectively respect regional countries’ efforts to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea,” Wang said.
Wang also said China will continue to firmly safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime interests, and actively protect peace in the region.
Philippine vessels have repeatedly intruded into waters adjacent to China’s Ren’ai Reef over the past months to send supplies to an illegally grounded Philippine warship, causing tensions in the South China Sea and disrupting Manila’s ties with Beijing.
China has slammed the Philippines’ moves and the US for encouraging the provocations and coordinating with the Philippines, and it urged the US to stop meddling in the South China Sea.
The Southern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has also announced that it conducted routine patrols in the South China Sea on Wednesday and Thursday.
The theater command said its troops “remain on high alert at all times” and “keep under control any military activities aiming to disrupt the situation in the South China Sea or create hot spots”.