US Defense chief’s Philippine visit ‘escalates regional tension,’ Chinese embassy says

The Chinese Embassy in Manila has called out US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s visit and activities in the Philippines by saying such actions “escalate regional tension and undermine regional peace and stability.”

In a statement, the embassy accused the US of continuing to “step up its military posture” in the Indo-Pacific region “out of its self interests and zero-sum game mentality.”

The embassy said Austin “smeared China” on the issue of the South China Sea to advance its “anti-China political agenda” during his visit.

This came as Austin arrived in Manila on Tuesday night in a bid to advance the US’ interest in the region by boosting its military ties with the Philippines.

“Such moves contradict the common aspiration of regional countries to seek peace, cooperation and development, and run counter to the common aspiration of the Filipino people to pursue sound economic recovery and a better life in cooperation with China,” an embassy spokesperson said.

The embassy asserted that “peace and development are the theme of the day” and “China always holds that defense and security cooperation between countries should be conducive to regional peace and stability.”

It must “not target against any third party, even less to harm the interests of a third party,” the embassy added.

The Chinese embassy is hoping that the Philippine side will stay “vigilant” and resist “from being taken advantage of and dragged into trouble waters.”