PH welcomes China’s participation in global naval drill
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines welcomed China’s participation in the Rim of the Pacific naval exercises, the largest of its kind, hosted by the United States in Hawaii, saying it would “ease tensions” brought by maritime disputes.
“We welcome (China’s) move as a way to ease tensions [and] as a part of confidence-building in the region,” Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose said in a press conference Wednesday.
China deployed four ships to the world’s largest naval exercises being held in the Pacific every two years. Among those ships is the Chinese Peace Ark hospital ship that assisted in the relief and recovery effort in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan).
China will join the naval exercises for the first time bringing the total of participating countries to 23. At least 1,100 Chinese military officers and sailors including a commando unit and a dive team are onboard four Chinese ships.
Maritime disputes in the region have caused tensions between China and neighboring countries, including Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
Japanese and Vietnamese vessels have repeatedly engaged in brief non-violent encounters with Chinese ships over disputed waters.
The Philippines is also locked in a maritime dispute with China over the Spratly Group of Islands which is claimed by China in its entirety. Manila has turned to the UN arbitral tribunal to settle the territorial conflict.
The Philippines is a participant to the naval exercises and has sent component staff personnel to the event.