China has insisted it wants to resolve territorial disputes peacefully
China has said a series of recent naval drills are “routine” and unrelated to simmering tensions in the South China Sea involving a range of nations with competing territorial claims.
When asked about the six military exercises staged by the Chinese navy in June, including a joint drill with Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin, defence ministry spokesman Yang Yujun urged the media not to speculate about their purpose.
“China hopes all parties will treat the Chinese navy’s normal exercises in an objective and rational way,” the official Xinhua news agency quoted Yang as saying Wednesday. He described the drills as “routine arrangements”.
He said China expects all countries involved in the South China Sea disputes to “make the peace and stability of the region a priority and do more to contribute” to that outcome, according to Xinhua.
China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims to parts of the South China Sea, which is believed to have vast oil and gas deposits, while its shipping lanes are vital for global trade.
Vietnam and the Philippines have in recent months accused China of taking increasingly aggressive actions in staking its claims in the disputed waters and its archipelagos.
In response, China has insisted it wants to resolve territorial disputes peacefully but remains firm in its claims to most of the South China Sea, even waters within the Philippines’ economic exclusion zone.
The United States and the Philippines on Tuesday launched 11 days of joint naval exercises in Philippine waters close to the much coveted South China Sea.