Japan, US, Philippines to step up maritime security ties

TOKYO– A US diplomat in Tokyo on Tuesday criticized China’s “increasingly hostile maritime actions” as a threat to the security of waterways in the resource-rich Indo-Pacific, as the United States seeks to strengthen the security cooperation with their allies, Japan and the Philippines.

US Deputy Chief of Mission Raymond Greene said Beijing’s disregard for international law and heavy-handed actions were aimed at increasing its control over the region. “Specifically, the People’s Republic of China’s increasingly hostile maritime actions threaten the security of our waterways,” he told a news conference ahead of a meeting of officials from the three countries.

“No nation should be able to dominate Indo-Pacific waters through outright coercion and intimidation,” he said. “Might does not do good and we do not hesitate to denounce Beijing’s provocative actions.”

He said China’s actions include militarization of the East and South China Seas, harassment of foreign and other fishing vessels, and depletion of marine resources and the environment.

China ranks second in military spending after the United States and is rapidly modernizing its forces. He says his army is purely for defense and to protect his sovereign rights.

Japan sees China as a regional security threat and is concerned about rising tensions around Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory. Tokyo is also concerned about increased cooperation between China and Russia and their joint military activities around Japan, including joint firing exercises off northern Japan over the weekend.

Japanese Deputy Defense Minister Kimi Onoda, also present at the press conference, said Japan and the Philippines were maritime nations with shared security challenges, including attempts by other nations to change to alone the status quo in the South and East China Seas.

Robespierre L. Bolivar, Chargé d’Affaires at the Philippine Embassy, ​​said promoting cooperation between the three countries is important to help protect the maritime interests of the Philippines.

About 20 maritime security officials and experts from the three countries are expected to discuss maritime security cooperation during the two-day session.

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AP writer Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report.

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