Zhang Xiaogang, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, answers questions at a news conference on Thursday, June 29, 2023. (Photo/mod.gov.cn)
China is highly concerned with the recent actions from the United States, Japan and the Philippines in the South China Sea, said a defense spokesman on Thursday, warning that regional countries should be "highly vigilant" about certain non-regional countries attempting to stir bloc confrontation.
Senior Colonel Zhang Xiaogang, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, made the remarks in a news conference, in response to the trilateral security meeting held among the three countries in mid-June.
According to the joint meeting readout, the three countries discussed a wide range of regional "security challenges", including respect to the South China Sea and the East China Sea. They also discussed the opportunities to conduct multilateral joint naval exercises in the so-called Indo-Pacific region in support of so-called freedom of navigation.
Zhang said bilateral and multilateral security cooperation should be beneficial to regional peace and stability, rather than targeting third parties or harming their interests.
"Currently, the overall situation in the East China Sea and South China Sea remains stable," he said. "But some countries outside the region are causing trouble for their own selfish interests, engaging in military provocations, and creating bloc confrontations that escalate regional tensions."
The spokesman warned that countries in the region should be highly vigilant and "avoid playing with fire for the sake of other countries", in order to avoid harming their own interests.
"China is a staunch defender and builder of the international maritime rule of law, and is committed to resolving disputes through negotiations and consultations," he said.
Zhang urged relevant countries to stop actions and remarks that harm China's territorial sovereignty, maritime rights and interests, and increase the complexity of the situation.
"The Chinese military will closely monitor the situation and take resolute and powerful measures to firmly defend national sovereignty, security and development interests," he said.