China Warns US, Philippines of Conducting Combat Exercises

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — China warned Wednesday that the deepening security alliance between the United States and the Philippines should not undermine its security and territorial interests and should not interfere in long-running territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila on Wednesday issued a statement to Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin when asked for comment on the combat drills between the US and Philippine armed forces that began in the Philippines on Tuesday. Party and should be beneficial for the peace and stability of the area.

Wang did not say how China would react if it concludes that US-Philippines security cooperation is undermining Beijing’s core interests.

In Washington, the US and Philippine defense and foreign secretaries met on Tuesday to discuss the development of nine Philippine military bases under a 2014 revised defense cooperation agreement that allowed US forces to remain indefinitely.

“These sites will support coordinated training exercises and cooperation between our forces to ensure we are even better prepared for future crises,” said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. He added that he has allocated more than 100 million dollars to build infrastructure in the places where Americans settle.

China has strongly opposed the deal, which would have allowed the northern Philippines to establish military bases and intelligence posts in western Philippine provinces bordering the disputed South China Sea. On historical grounds. Washington disputes China’s claims.

Austin said he discussed with his Philippine counterpart, Carlito Galvez, the delivery of critical US defense equipment to the Philippines in the next five to 10 years, including radar, unmanned aerial vehicles, military transport aircraft, and coastal and air defense systems. Security Assistance Roadmap.

This year’s Balikatan accord is the largest since the two sides began joint military combat readiness exercises in the early 1990s. They run until April 28 and involve more than 17,600 US and Philippine personnel and a small Australian military force. About a dozen countries, including China, Japan and India, are sending observers, organizers said.

In a live-fire exercise the partners will play for the first time, U.S. and Philippine forces will sink a combined coastal weapon bombardment and air attack ship in the western Zambales province of the Philippines on April 26, Col. Michael Logico, a spokesman for the Philippines’ Balikatan, told reporters on Tuesday. .

Logico said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has been briefed on the live fire drill and plans to watch it.

In Palawan, which faces the South China Sea, the exercise will include coastal strikes and the retaking of an island captured by enemy forces, Logico said.

Marcos, who took office in June last year, has forged closer ties with Washington than his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, while praising China and Russia and often disparaging US security policies. Duterte tried to scrap a key defense pact barring US forces from entering the Philippines for large-scale military exercises, but later backed off.

Left-wing activists and nationalists have strongly opposed the US military presence in the Philippines, a former US colony that is popular with Filipinos based on independent elections.

“The Philippines is caught in an imperialist conflict between the US and China,” said Renato Reyes of the left-wing Bayan Union. “We are only being used as a stepping stone for US power projection and provocations in the region.”

The exercise is the latest display of US firepower in Asia as the Biden administration bolsters alliances to better counter China, including a potential conflict over Taiwan, an island democracy that Beijing claims as its own.

That was due to the efforts of the Philippines under Marcos to protect its territorial interests in the South China Sea.

The exercise, which began in the early 1990s, will feature US warships, fighter jets, Patriot missiles, HIMARS rocket launchers and anti-tank Javelins, US and Philippine military officials said.

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