On Thursday, Beijing expressed opposition on the plan of Japan and the U.S. to continue its joint navy drills in the highly contested islands, reefs and atolls in the South China Sea.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei, in a press briefing exhorted countries involved in the South China Sea to take a peaceful stance towards stability rather than “flexing their muscles” that may further escalate tensions and militarization of the area.
This declaration of the Chinese spokesman is in response to agreements between Japan and the U.S. on possible continuance of operations in the South China Sea. Japan’s Defense Minister General Nakatani and the U.S. Pacific Command Admiral Harry Harris agreed on joint drills in the disputed waters early this week, on Tuesday.
Japan and the U.S. had jointly conducted a 10-day military exercise in the area, which is the subject of disputes among countries advancing territorial claims. China is claiming sovereignty over a biggest portion or almost all of the entire South China Sea, disregarding territorial claims of its neighbors located nearest to the disputed waters such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.
The South China Sea has become a center of dispute among these countries because of its role as a critical route to international shipping, apart from information that the area is sitting on vast deposits of mineral resources, including oil.
China is being watched closely by relevant countries, the U.S. on top of the list , for its “massive and fast-paced land reclamation work in the South China Sea”, while building a top of the line military facility in the waters. These activities are causing a ruckus among the smaller China’s Asian neighbor-claimants and contributing to regional tensions.
Japan may not be directly involved in the South China Sea, but it is collaborating with the U.S. to promote freedom for international navigation, particularly the South China Sea and has been open in this involvement. On the eyes of the international community, Japan and the US joint drills is seen as strategy to check China’s aggressive activities.
China is not at ease on this current activities, thus it openly opposed Japan and the U.S. partnership of training its navy in the area.