(UR) Beijing — A week after the United States conducted joint naval exercises with Japan and South Korea in the Sea of Japan, China over the weekend warned that the U.S. and South Korea would “pay the price” for deploying a previously agreed-upon missile defense system in the region, Reuters reports.
“Like any other country, China can neither be vague nor indifferent on security matters that affect its core interests,”China’s state-run newspaper People’s Daily wrote on Saturday. “If the United States and South Korea harm the strategic security interests of countries in the region including China, then they are destined to pay the price for this and receive a proper counter attack.”
Tensions have been high between the three nations since the U.S. and South Korea agreed to further their military cooperation in the region, as highlighted by CNBC:
“Since South Korea said in July that it would host a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system, China has made its opposition to the deployment on the grounds that it could compromise Chinese security and inflame tensions with volatile neighbor North Korea.”
Last Monday, the U.S. held joint naval drills with longtime allies Japan and South Korea, just off the coast of China and Russia, in the Sea of Japan. Following that, China warned Japan it would be “playing with fire” if it tried anything similar in the South China Sea, as Underground Reporter has covered.
The tensions in that region are regarding sovereignty, with China and several of the smaller surrounding nations like Vietnam and the Philippines all laying claim to the waters of the South China Sea. It was the Philippines, in fact — with the backing of the U.S. — who won an arbitration court ruling negating China’s claim of territorial hegemony back in July.
Since then, however, the relationship between the United States and the Philippines has waned. Newly-elected President Rodrigo Duterte has recently grown highly critical of the U.S., and even President Obama himself, and has demonstrated a desire to break the Philippines’ security dependence on the U.S. and strengthen its ties to China.
The joint U.S.-Filipino military exercises taking place this week are to be the last between the two countries, in fact, according to President Duterte. Addressing the United States while speaking in Hanoi, the president said “I would serve notice to you now that this will be the last military exercise. Jointly, Philippines-US, the last one.”
He even intimated it was, indeed, his desire to move closer to China that motivated his decision, stating — while still addressing the United States: “I will establish new alliances for trade and commerce, and you are scheduled to hold war games again, which China does not want.”
The warming relations between the Philippines and China has not gone unnoticed, particularly by those with skin in the game. Zhao Jianhua, Chinese Ambassador to Manila, recently made note of it at a Chinese National Day reception.
“Ever since President Duterte took office, China and Philippines have been engaging in friendly interactions, which have yielded a series of positive results,” Reuters reported him saying. “The clouds are fading away. The sun is rising over the horizon, and will shine beautifully on the new chapter of bilateral relations.”
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