Philippine-US drill intensifies tensions

2013-06-28 00:08:14 GMT2013-06-28 08:08:14(Beijing Time)  Global Times

Philippine and US naval forces on Thursday kicked off their six-day joint military exercises in the South China Sea, which Chinese experts said would intensify the current tensions over territorial disputes.

The annual joint drill, Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training, is being held near Huangyan Island, the Philippine military and local media reported, adding that the exercises have nothing to do with last year's incidents around the island.

Hua Chunying, spokeswomen of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Wednesday that China hopes that relevant parties can do more to maintain regional peace and stability rather than the opposite.

A Malaysian military source told the Global Times previously that the US is sending a record-high number of naval forces, including a recently deployed littoral combat ship, a major future battleship, to the exercises.

The drill comes some two months after the previous exercises in April conducted by the two countries.

Zhuang Guotu, director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Xiamen University, told the Global Times Thursday that this drill would intensify tensions not only in the South China Sea but also in other areas where China has maritime territorial disputes with other countries.

"Through these large-scale exercises, the US has strengthened its support to the Philippines in maritime disputes, as it hopes the Philippines will act tougher when handling disputes with China," Zhuang said.

"This drill will bring more confidence to the Philippines because of the support from the US military," he noted.

Wang Yi, Chinese foreign minister, said on Thursday that countries involved in territorial disputes in the South China Sea that try to seek for a solution from a third party will find their efforts futile, adding that confrontation is not the way out.

The Ministry of National Defense also stated on Thursday that China is strongly against the Philippines' attempts to expand its military presence, adding that it will firmly safeguard China's territorial sovereignty.

China has already softened its tone towards these disputes, as it calls for shelving differences and seeking joint development, Zhuang said, adding such frequent and large exercises defy China's desire for peace and development.

Editor: Yu Runze
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