Malacañang on Wednesday said that China should not be threatened by the joint naval exercises being conducted by the Philippines with Japan and the United States on the West Philippine Sea.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that the Philippines had been conducting joint military exercises before and has not threatened peace and security of other countries in the region.
“The Philippines has had these exercises before with our strategic partners,” Valte said.
“It should not be taken as an affront to any other and is an expression of cooperation and learning from all those involved,” she said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang, in reaction to the circling of a Japanese military patrol plane over the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea last Tuesday as part of a joint air drill with the Philippines, said that China hopes it will not create tension in the region.
“Currently, what the regional countries care most is still the issue of development. We hope that relevant sides would not deliberately hype up or even create so-called tension in the region. It is hoped that interactions between relevant sides could be conducive to regional peace and stability, rather than the contrary,” Lu said.
Currently, the Philippines is undergoing separate military exercises with allies Japan and the United States.
Both Japan and the US are strategic partners of the Philippines and had expressed support to the tracks chosen by the Philippine government in addressing the territorial dispute with China.
Reports revealed that China is set to finish soon its reclamation activities in disputed areas in the South China Sea.
Both China and the Philippines are claimants to the disputed Spratly group of islands aside from Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Taiwan. The said area is believed to contain substantial undersea oil reserves.(M. S.Namit, mb)