Palace: China misreading PH-US military exercises
CHINA has misinterpreted the Philippines’ joint military exercises with the United States near disputed territory in the South China Sea, Malacañang said Saturday.
“We believe that the People’s Republic of China through its statements misunderstands or perhaps does not properly appreciate the purpose of our activities with the United States,” Communications Undersecretary Manolo Quezon said in a radio interview.
“These are to ensure freedom of navigation in the region, which benefits all nations because it allows the free, unhampered flow of trade,” Quezon said.
“These are peaceful and highly uncontroversial exercises meant to ensure that prosperity is continuous under a regime of stability through the participation of all countries,” he added.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s visit to an American aircraft carrier sailing near the disputed islands in the South China Sea came at the end of this year’s Balikatan war games between Filipino and American troops.
China has blasted the US for “militarizing” the West Philippine Sea with its move to deepen its defense ties with the Philippines through joint patrols in the contested waters.
The Chinese defense ministry on Thursday said strengthening US-Philippine defense ties reflected “Cold War mentality.”
But Quezon said the war games underscored the historic relations between the Philippines and the United States, which date back to 1851.
“Our moves and our ongoing projects with our foreign allies show that we are on a steady and sensible path,” he said.
Quezon also defended the sale by the United States of its decommissioned Hamilton-class cutters to the Philippine Coast Guard.
The Philippines has three Hamilton-class cutters capable of patrolling its territorial waters in the South China Sea.
Quezon said while the cutters were built in the late 1960s, they were still “a generation or more advanced than what we used to have”—World War II-era vessels.
“In other words, if these were bicycles, we need to go through training wheels first. Once we get acquainted with these, we can then invest in more modern engines (with 1990 to 2000s technology),” he said.
Quezon said critics should understand that the Philippines has to balance its need to improve its defense requirements with its limited resources that are also needed for other public services.
“[They’re] not junk because there are other nations that have also taken on the Hamilton-class cutter. They’re perfectly good vessels and we have seen how good and useful they are,” he said. TVJ
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.