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China shuns war, but airs concern over US drills


PRESIDENT Duterte (right) greets Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua at Malacañang Palace.

PRESIDENT Duterte (right) greets Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua at Malacañang Palace.

CHINA has no desire to engage in military confrontation with any state in the South China Sea but has expressed concern about the United States’ reported plan to conduct naval exercises in the area next month.

The statement was relayed by Chinese Ambassador to the Philip­pines Zhao Jianhua in a meeting with President Duterte in Malaca­ñang last Monday about the im­pending visit of China’s President Xi Jinping to the country.

“China, of course, expressed concern over a naval military ex­ercise that the United States will be conducting in the area at about the same time that the Chinese President will be in the Philip­pines,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said during a Palace news conference.

He said President Duterte as­sured China that “we will not take part in that military exercise.”

Asked if the President will ask the US to defer the naval exercises in the region, Roque declined to give details. But the Palace official said they hope Xi’s visit to Manila in November would be “seamless” and “fruitful.”

“The general consensus was we don’t want anything to mar the visit of the President Xi so I think the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) will do all it can to make sure the President Xi’s visit will be fruitful and as productive as we want it to be,” he said.

“We want a seamless visit of President Xi,” he added.

The United States Pacific Fleet reportedly proposed to send planes and ships in the South China Sea in a major show of force to counter China’s increased military activity in the disputed area. Reports said the US ships and aircraft could be deployed this November to send a strong message to Beijing.

The Philippines, however, ob­tained an assurance from China that it has no plan to use military force against any nation in the South China Sea, according to Roque.

“China reiterated that they do not desire any military confronta­tion as a result of the West Phil­ippine Sea either with any of the claimant states or with any other powers because China is the big­gest user of the West Philippine Sea,” he said.

“Any military confrontation in the West Philippine Sea will have dire consequences as far as Chi­nese commerce is concerned,” he added.

He said they agreed that Xi’s visit to the Philippines would “further cement the already strong rela­tions” between the two countries.

Both also agreed the joint oil exploration in the West Philippines will benefit the interest of both countries, he said.

Roque said Zhao also affirmed Chinese financial assistance in connection with “page-long list of projects” in the country. (Genalyn Kabiling)