China's Foreign Ministry on Thursday blasted the announcement of four new military bases by the Philippines for the United States, urging regional countries not to act as Washington's pawns so as to avoid harming themselves.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning made the remarks at a daily news conference after the Philippines identified the locations of the bases, including three close to Taiwan, and one near the South China Sea, which are seen as aimed at combating China.
The Philippines Department of National Defense Chief Carlito Galvez said on Wednesday that the addition of four sites to the U.S. will further boost the country's capabilities to safeguard national interests, contribute to collective defense in the region and protect the busy commercial waterways in the South China Sea.
Mao questioned whether increasing the U.S. military deployment in one country or in a region will truly help protect national interests and regional peace and stability, saying it also might cause irreparable consequences as there is a long list of turmoil, division and devastation left behind by the U.S. military around the world.
As to the protection of commercial waterways in the South China Sea, Mao said there is never any issue with freedom of navigation or safety in the water area.
China and the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have both the will and capability to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea, and there is no need for external interference, the spokeswoman said.
Many in the Philippines are worried that opening new military bases to the U.S. will draw their country into a potential conflict in the Taiwan Straits, according to Mao.
She said that it is not China that is heightening cross-Straits tensions, but the "Taiwan independence" forces in the island and certain countries that support them.
"We hope regional countries could see clearly who is fanning the flames in the Taiwan Straits and what their purpose is, and avoid hurting themselves by acting as their pawns," she said.