MANILA – Chinese Embassy official He Zhenliang questioned Japan’s interest in supposedly colluding with the Philippines and called on the country to stop meddling with the territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
“Even though Japan is not a party [to the dispute], it is trying to pressure China by colluding with some countries,” Zhenliang said in a press conference.
The Chinese official released the statement after the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and the Philippines’ military engaged in a joint training exercise in Palawan, an island near the Spratly Islands.
“Japan has shown a stronger interest in the issue than usual and taken up the issue on various occasions… We would like it to stop provoking us and try to maintain the momentum for improving our bilateral relationship,” Zhenliang added.
Although Japan and the United States are not claimant states in the disputed islands, both have expressed great concern over China’s massive and rapid land reclamation activities in the region.
With the 70th anniversary of the end of the World War II approaching, the Chinese official hoped that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would remember and learn from their militarist past and decide to strengthen bilateral relations with neighboring countries instead.
Despite China’s calls, Japan and the Philippines continued to bolster security ties; hence, the crafting of a Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
“We have submitted a wish list to Japan, what equipment the Philippines needs urgently to boost our maritime security [in the South China Sea],” a Philippine naval officer said in a report by Reuters.
Japan, for its part, explained that although they were not claiming territories in the Spratly Islands, China’s reclamation works still had impact on the country’s security. Thus, Japan needed to take action on the matter.