MANILA, Philippines — A major state-run Chinese newspaper criticized US President Barack Obama's four-country Asia-Pacific trip as well as the newly forged defense agreement between Washington and Manila for making China look like the enemy.
In its editorial on Tuesday, China Daily said that it is unconvinced that the US has not been attempting to contain a rising China in its Asia-Pacific rebalancing strategy manifested by Obama's recently concluded visits.
"From Tokyo to Manila, Obama has tried to pick his words so as not to antagonize Beijing. But from the US-Japan joint statement to the new US-Philippines defense agreement, it is increasingly obvious that Washington is taking Beijing as an opponent," the media outfit said.
"With Obama reassuring the US' allies of protection in any conflict with China, it is now clear that Washington is no longer bothering to conceal its attempt to contain China's influence in the region," it continued.
The paper similarly blasted the Obama administration foreign policy as focusing on a pivot to Asia and modernizing American's alliances in the region.
While the US has clarified several times that it does not take a stand on who has a better position in the dispute, China Daily called the statement a "hollow" rhetoric about peace and international law.
On Monday, Obama said in a joint press conference with President Benigno Aquino III in Manila that the US welcomes "China's peaceful rise" and reiterated that it does not aim to counter the Asian giant.
He also said, however, that the US does not believe in coercion and intimidation, referring to Beijing's positioning of ships in the South China Sea.
China has been embroiled in a longstanding maritime dispute with its neighbors, particularly the Philippines, Japan and Malaysia--countries, besides South Korea, that Obama renewed ties with through his trip.
The newspaper also expressed disappointment that the US chose to become a "backstage supporter" to the Philippines and Japan rather than discourage the countries from "unruly" activities in the contested seas.
"For a considerably long period, Chinese have cherished the naive thought that Washington will rein in its unruly allies when they go too far. Obama's current trip should be a wake-up call that this is just wishful thinking," it said.
"Ganging up with its troublemaking allies, the US is presenting itself as a security threat to China," the news organization added.
It also accused Washington of using regional tension to strengthen its bilateral ties with Beijing's rival claimants.
China Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, was more sober in reacting to Obama's remarks during his trip in the Philippines.
In a briefing on Monday, China Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said China trusts what the US "says and does" on whether it wants to antagonize the East Asian giant through the new defense cooperation deal with the Philippines and Obama's visit.
"President Obama and other US officials have said on multiple occasions that the US has no intention of containing China," Qin said.