Chinese embassy slams US security adviser

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star
Chinese embassy slams US security adviser
Beijing, through its embassy in Manila, said in a statement on Monday that O’Brien made the remarks about the South China Sea, Hong Kong and Taiwan during his visit to the Philippines on the same day.

MANILA, Philippines — China has blasted United States National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien for his “unreasonable” remarks on the South China Sea as it accused the US of using electronic codes of civilian aircraft of the Philippines and other regional countries to carry out espionage flights over disputed waters.

Beijing, through its embassy in Manila, said in a statement on Monday that O’Brien made the remarks about the South China Sea, Hong Kong and Taiwan during his visit to the Philippines on the same day.

The embassy said O’Brien blatantly accused China of stoking tensions in the region, and that the US official interfered in China’s internal affairs and deliberately exaggerated regional tensions to sow discord between China and the Philippines.

O’Brien was in Manila on Monday for the official turnover of missiles and other weapons to the Philippines promised in April by US President Donald Trump to help the government battle Islamic extremists as well as potential aggressors in the South China Sea.

The US, through O’Brien, also reaffirmed its commitment to protect Philippine forces if attacked in the South China Sea.

But the Chinese embassy said the US was regarding itself as “patron” among regional countries as well as “judge.” It also accused the US of stirring confrontation in the region to frustrate efforts of China and ASEAN countries to peacefully negotiate and manage disputes.

Despite Chinese militarization, the embassy insisted that the situation in the South China Sea remains “stable” and is even “improving.”

“Solidarity and cooperation is what the world needs most instead of confrontation. Facing a world with difficulties and challenges, it is against the interest of all to escalate tensions and widen differences,” the embassy said, citing the raging pandemic and the global economic turmoil.

But since the outbreak of the pandemic, the US State Department said China has built new “research stations” on fortified artificial islands on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef and Zamora (Subi) Reef. China also deployed special military aircraft on Kagitingan Reef, the US said.

Not being pushed out

In a telephone briefing, O’Brien said the US “is not going to be pushed out” of the Indo-Pacific region.

“So our message is, we’re going to be here, we’ve got your back and we’re not leaving,” O’Brien said.

“We’re going to fight for a free and open Indo-Pacific region with all of our friends and partners. And I think when we send that message – that peace-through-strength message – is the way to deter China,” he said.

“It is a way to ensure the peace, and it’s a way to make sure that there’s no war in the region. We certainly don’t want that,” he pointed out.

“The commitment is we will stand behind them as they promote international law and the rule of law where it comes to the South China Sea,” he added.

He stressed that there is a bipartisan consensus in the US that they have to stand up to China for unfair trade practices, theft of intellectual property, attempts to coerce their neighbors and human rights violations in Xinjiang with the Uyghur people, the extinguishing of the democracy movement in Hong Kong and attempts to coerce Taiwan.

“I think all of those activities, not to mention the release of the COVID virus on the whole world, either if it was accidental or even if it was natural, the Chinese covered up the virus and they silenced those who tried to raise the alarm in China. They allowed travel from China to the rest of the world when they were shutting down travel within China,” O’Brien said.

China, he said, bullied the World Health Organization (WHO) to give false information about the virus not being transmittable from human-to-human or by aerosol.

He stressed that the best way to deter China or to have mutually beneficial relations with the Chinese is to have a strong America and very strong alliances with US treaty allies like the Philippines, Japan, Thailand and Australia.

“We just can’t have relations with China when we’re being coerced, unfair trade practices, whether there’s military action being taken against our partners and allies,” he said.

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