Japan, US, Philippines to step up maritime security ties
TOKYO (AP) — An American diplomat in Tokyo on Tuesday criticized China’s “increasingly hostile maritime actions” as a threat to the safety of waterways in the resource-rich Indo-Pacific, as the United States seeks to strengthen security cooperation with allies Japan and the Philippines.
U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Raymond Greene said disregard for international law and heavy-handed actions by Beijing are aimed at increasing its control over the region. “Specifically, the increasingly hostile maritime actions by the People’s Republic of China threaten the safety of our waterways,” he said at a news conference ahead of a meeting of officials from the three countries.
“No one nation should be able to dominate Indo-Pacific waters through coercion and outright intimidation,” he said. “Might does not make right and we do not shy away from calling out Beijing’s provocative actions.”
He said China’s actions included a militarization of the East and South China Seas, harassment of foreign fishing and other vessels, and depletion of maritime resources and the environment.
China ranks second highest in military spending after the United States and is rapidly modernizing its forces. It says its military is purely for defense and to protect its sovereign rights.
Japan sees China as a regional security threat and worries about growing tensions surrounding Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory. Tokyo also is concerned about increasing cooperation between China and Russia and their joint military activities around Japan, including joint firing drills off northern Japan over the weekend.
Japanese Vice Defense Minister Kimi Onoda, also at the news conference, said Japan and the Philippines as maritime nations share security challenges, including attempts by other nations to singlehandedly change the status quo in the South and East China Seas.
Robespierre L. Bolivar, chargé d’affaires at the Philippine Embassy, said promotion of cooperation among the three countries is important to help protect the Philippines’ maritime interests.
About 20 maritime security officials and experts from the three countries are to discuss maritime security cooperation at the two-day session.
AP writer Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report.