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Philippines-US drill raises concern

By Zhou Wa | China Daily | Updated: 2013-09-27 07:03

China urged regional countries not to act recklessly with the support of parties outside the region, referring to recent joint exercises between the United States and the Philippines near the South China Sea.

"Peace, stability and prosperity are desired by people in the region and need to be maintained by all relevant parties," Ministry of National Defense spokesman Geng Yansheng said on Thursday at a monthly news conference.

"Parties outside the region should take more action that favors peace and stability, rather than sowing dissension."

On Sept 18, the US and the Philippines began a three-week military drill near the South China Sea.

The drill is part of Manila's effort to get US help in strengthening its maritime forces so that the Philippines will be in a stronger position when bargaining with China on South China Sea territorial issues, Agence France-Presse reported.

In addition, a Wall Street Journal report said that the Philippines looks forward to reopening the former Subic Bay US naval base to US forces to counter Chinese moves in the South China Sea.

Washington should mind the risk of an increased military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, said Chen Qinghong, a researcher on Philippine studies with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

"An increased military presence will cause instability and add more uncertainties to the region," he said.

Xu Liping, a researcher on Asia-Pacific studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that neither the Philippines nor others outside the region should underestimate Beijing's determination to safeguard its sovereignty in the South China Sea.

"Looking at the bigger picture, China exercised restraint in dealing with the issue, but Manila should not misunderstand China's restraint as weakness," he said. Manila and those outside the region should value China's efforts to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, he added.

Geng also introduced the training plan for China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.

The Liaoning will sail further offshore within China's maritime territory for military training in the future, the spokesman said.

"But the carrier is still in an experimental stage," he added.

The Liaoning marked the first anniversary of its commissioning on Wednesday.

Nuclear arsenal

Referring to a recent report by a US institute that said China's nuclear arsenal has already surpassed the United Kingdom's, Geng reiterated that China remains restrained in maintaining nuclear weapons.

"China has never participated in and will not participate in nuclear competition," Geng said. China has reduced its nuclear forces to the lowest level necessary to safeguard national security, he added.

In other matters, Geng said the Chinese army will do its best to provide relief assistance to Pakistan in the wake of the country's magnitude-7.7 earthquake on Tuesday, which killed at least 384 people in the southwest province of Balochistan.

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