US expresses concern over China's military drills in disputed South China Sea
The US has expressed concern over the military exercises conducted by the People's Republic of China (PRC) around the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on July 1-5.
"Conducting military exercises over disputed territory in the South China Sea is counterproductive to efforts at easing tensions and maintaining stability. The PRC's actions will further destabilize the situation in the South China Sea. Such exercises also violate PRC commitments under the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to avoid activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability," said the Department of Defense in a press statement.
It further stated that these military exercises are a continuation of PRC's move to assert illegal maritime claims, thus posing a threat to its Southeast Asian neighbours in the South China Sea.
"The PRC's actions stand in contrast to its pledge to not militarize the South China Sea and the United States' vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, in which all nations, large and small, are secure in their sovereignty, free from coercion, and able to pursue economic growth consistent with accepted international rules and norms," it read.
While urging China to restraint from undertaking military exercises that might aggravate disputes in the South China Sea, the department also said that it will continue to monitor the situation.