Amid tensions in the South China Sea and the recent joint US-Philippines military exercises, Chinese ambassador to the Philippines, Ma Keqing, has stated that the region should aim for peace and stability. Ma’s statement seems to reflect China’s previous call for stability in the region. AFP reports:
The Philippines has responded to what it perceives as heightened Chinese aggressiveness by calling for stepped up military ties with the United States.
And it will hold a large-scale military exercise with the US next month on the main island of Luzon and in Palawan, an island on the Philippines’ southwest coast facing the South China Sea.
But Ma Keqing said any such military ties were an internal matter for the Philippines, and that for now China was willing to jointly develop disputed areas in the South China Sea.
“The Pacific is large enough for the US and China. We hope that the US will take a constructive role to make this region more peaceful and stable,” the ambassador told reporters.
The region, which includes the Spratly Islands, has been the topic of dispute between China and the Philippines due to speculations about the presence of oil and gas deposits. While it seems that there is an increase in military presence, Ma has said that China does not intend to interfere in the region with military force. The Manila Bulletin adds:
China has no ambition of invading other countries or interfering in their affairs through military force, the new Chinese ambassador to Manila declared in a discussion with media in Makati City over the weekend.
Ambassador Ma Keqing said these were not part of the intention of her government in increasing its military budget this year as she sought to assuage fears that Beijing poses a threat to other nations.
“What we want to do is to protect China’s interest, protect its borders and sovereignty… that’s all,” said the lady ambassador. “We have no intention or ability to pose threat to other countries.”
The Chinese government’s published 2012 military budget is about $106.4 billion, the second largest in the world and up about 11.2 percent from 2011.
See more about disputes in the South China Sea via CDT.