China today said it has no objection to “normal” military cooperation between countries in the South China Sea if it is conducive to regional stability, days after Beijing raised “concern” over participation of India in Malabar exercise with the US and Japan near the disputed sea.
“We have noted the relevant report. Concerning the normal military cooperation we have no objection to that. We hope that military cooperation such as this is conducive to peace and regional stability,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.
A Chinese official had earlier said that Indian ships taking part in maritime exercise in the South China Sea was a matter of “concern”.
The official said the colonial tactics of “divide and rule” was being used.
“When there is some trouble in the South China Sea, India is worried. When Indian ships participate in maritime exercises in the South China Sea, of course China will show concern,” the official told reporters in New Delhi last week.
Guided missile stealth frigates, INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri, INS Shakti, a sophisticated fleet support ship, and INS Kirch, a guided missile corvette, had set sail on May 18 on a two-and-a-half month long operational deployment to the South China Sea and North West Pacific.
They will also take part in the Malabar exercise near the South China Sea. China claims sovereignty on almost all of the South China Sea which is disputed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
The US, which had been pushing for Japan’s inclusion, has said the exercise is an important element for assessing the maritime capabilities of all the three countries.
The US has in recent months ramped up its warnings over what it calls China’s growing “militarisation” in the region.
American warships and aircraft have undertaken a number of operations in the region to challenge China’s moves even as the US hopes to stitch Asian military powers into a closer cooperation.
The US has also been pushing for a quadrilateral security dialogue involving itself, India, Japan and Australia.