China says US actions ‘escalate regional tension,’ hopes PH stays vigilant
MANILA, Philippines — The actions of the United States (US) heighten regional tension in the South China Sea, the Chinese Embassy said on Thursday.
The embassy issued the remark amid the visit of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Manila.
“China always holds that defense and security cooperation between countries should be conducive to regional peace and stability, not target against any third party, even less to harm the interests of a third party,” the embassy said in a statement.
“The United States, out of its self interests and zero-sum game mentality, continues to step up military posture in this region. Its actions escalate regional tension and undermine regional peace and stability,” it added.
Austin, the embassy said, “smeared China on the issue of South China Sea to advance the anti-China political agenda of the US.”
The embassy said that such moves go against the common aspiration of regional nations to achieve “peace, cooperation and development, and run counter to the common aspiration of the Filipino people to pursue sound economic recovery and a better life in cooperation with China.”
The embassy hoped that the Philippines will remain vigilant amid the developments.
“It is hoped that the Philippine side stays vigilant and resists from being taken advantage of and dragged into trouble waters,” it said.
During Austin’s visit, the Philippines and US agreed to have four new additional Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) sites in the archipelago.
The Philippine Department of National Defense said that the “expansion of the Edca will make our alliance stronger and more resilient and will accelerate the modernization of our combined military capabilities.”
The Philippines and China have an ongoing maritime row in the West Philippine Sea, which is a territory of Manila.
However, Beijing has a sweeping nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea.
In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidated China’s claim and ruled that the Philippines has sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea.
Despite the ruling, Chinese aggression and harassment against Filipino fishers continue.
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