BEIJING — China on Jan. 29 called for greater efforts towards “peace and stability” in the region, after the Philippines offered to allow more U.S. troops on its territory.
Manila said Jan. 27 it planned to hold more joint exercises and to let more U.S. troops rotate through the Southeast Asian country — an offer welcomed by the United States as it seeks to expand its military power in Asia.
“We hope that relevant parties will make more effort towards peace and stability in the region,” China’s foreign ministry said in a brief statement faxed to AFP.
The government’s response was in sharp contrast to a blistering editorial in the Global Times — known for its nationalistic stance — which said Beijing should impose sanctions against the Philippines over the move.
China should use its “leverage to cut economic activities” between the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries and consider “cooling down” business links with its smaller neighbor, according to the editorial published in the Chinese and English versions of the newspaper.
“It should show China’s neighboring areas that balancing China by siding with the U.S. is not a good choice,” it said.
“Well-measured sanctions against the Philippines will make it ponder the choice of losing a friend such as China and being a vain partner with the U.S.”
China and the Philippines, along with Vietnam, have rival claims to parts of the South China Sea, home to some of the world’s most important shipping lanes and believed to hold vast deposits of fossil fuels.
Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia also have claims in the South China Sea.
Manila and Hanoi complained repeatedly last year of what they said were increasingly aggressive acts by China in the decades-long rift.
The alleged acts, which included a Chinese naval ship reportedly firing warning shots at Filipino fishermen, fueled fears among some nations in the region about China as its military and political strength grows.
The U.S. has been looking to increase its military presence across Asia Pacific in a strategic shift that has angered China.
U.S. President Barack Obama said in November the United States would deploy up to 2,500 Marines to northern Australia. The following month, a U.S. admiral wrote that the U.S. expected to station several combat ships in Singapore.