China has rejected what it described as “meddling” by outsiders in the South China Sea, saying it is “not a hunting ground” for forces outside of the region.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning made the statement when asked to comment on the new defense guidelines betwee the Philippines and the US which includes how Washington will defend Manila if it came under attack in the SCS and areas within the Indo-Pacific region.
The official said concerted efforts of countries within the region allowed the situation in the South China Sea to maintain “overall stability.”
“The US-Philippines defense guidelines is a bilateral arrangement,” Mao said. “China firmly opposes any country’s move to meddle in the South China Sea issue to harm China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests by citing the guidelines.”
Mao said the SCS is a “shared home for countries in the region, not a hunting ground for forces outside the region.”
“When regional countries are committed to mutual trust, solidarity, cooperation and properly handling differences, they have in their hand the key to peace and stability in the South China Sea,” Mao said.
Defense OIC Carlito Galvez and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Washington established the new guidelines to modernize bilateral alliance cooperation “for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”
Under the guidelines, the Philippines and the US will expand cooperation on maritime security through but not limited to joint patrols.
The guidelines also “reaffirmed that an armed attack in the Pacific, including anywhere in the South China Sea, on either of their aircraft or armed forces – which includes their Coast Guards – would invoke mutual defense commitments under the 1951 PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty.”
“Recognizing that threats may arise in several domains—including land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace—and take the form of asymmetric, hybrid, and irregular warfare and gray-zone tactics, the guidelines chart a way forward to build interoperability in both conventional and non-conventional domains,” the fact sheet read.