China brushes off US re­marks on drill

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHEN WEIHUA in Wash­ing­ton chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

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.

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