China brushes off US remarks on drill
China has rebuffed US criticism about its upcoming joint naval drill with Russia in the South China Sea.
Scott Swift, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, told the press on Tuesday that the choice of location was not conducive to “increasing the stability within the region”, The Associated Press reported.
“There are other places those exercises could have been conducted,” he said.
Swift made the comment during a visit to China, coinciding with the US Navy’s guidedmissile destroyer USS Benfold’s five-day port call in Qingdao, Shandong province.
Swift also said that any decision by China to declare an air defense identification zone over the South China Sea would be “very destabilizing from a military perspective”. He called on China for more military transparency, citing reports of Chinese construction of hangars for use of military jets adjacent to runways on some Nansha Islands.
It helps strengthen the capabilities of the two sides in jointly tackling threats in the maritime domain.” Defense Ministry statement
“That increases the angst and uncertainty, that lack of transparency, and that is generally destabilizing as opposed to a stabilizing action,” Swift told the press.
While the People’s Liberation Army Navy North Sea Fleet, headquartered in Qingdao, held a warm welcoming ceremony for the USS Benfold, China’s Ministry of National Defense was upset with Swift’s remarks on certain issues.
In its direct response to Swift’s comments, the ministry’s press office described the planned joint military exercise by the Chinese and Russian navies in September as “a routine drill by the two militaries”.
“It helps strengthen the capabilities of the two sides in jointly tackling threats in the maritime domain, and it is not aimed at any third party,” the Global Times quoted the press office as saying.
The defense ministry criticized the US for its actions to the contrary, citing US efforts to increase military deployment in the South China Sea and carrying out so-called “freedom of navigation” patrols.