Planned Philippines-Japan joint military drill raises alert, warning from Chinese experts
Published: Nov 08, 2023 06:45 PM
File photo taken in July, 2016 shows Chinese H-6K bomber patrolling islands and reefs including Huangyan Island in the South China Sea. (Xinhua/Liu Rui)

File photo taken in July, 2016 shows Chinese H-6K bomber patrolling islands and reefs including Huangyan Island in the South China Sea. (Xinhua/Liu Rui)

The Philippines and Japan hope to hold a joint exercise under a new bilateral security pact next year, which Chinese experts said on Wednesday is a dangerous plan that could pose several threats to regional peace and stability.

Gilberto Teodoro, Defense Secretary of the Philippines, said on Tuesday that a joint exercise by Philippine and Japanese troops under a proposed reciprocal access agreement (RAA) between the two countries could be held as early as next year, Kyodo News reported on Tuesday.

The talks on the RAA will go "very smoothly" and be signed at "the soonest possible time," Kyodo News quoted Teodoro as saying.

The RAA will not only facilitate joint defense drills but also contain a data sharing mechanism, Teodoro said, with Kyodo News noting that Japan is supplying coastal surveillance radars to the Philippines, and that the Philippines has a similar security agreement with the US and Australia.

Teodoro then pointed to China, saying that the pact is significant in order to make the Philippines and Japan more secure, and thanked Japan for "condemning China" for an event on October 22 in which Philippine vessels trespassed into waters off China's Ren'ai Reef in the South China Sea and intentionally caused bumps amid countermeasures by the Chinese side.

China should stay on high alert over the recent military cooperation attempts between Japan and the Philippines, because they are not simple bilateral cooperation, but can cause serious consequences to regional peace and stability, analysts said.

The Philippines knows that its own military capabilities cannot support its scheme of snatching Chinese islands and reefs in the South China Sea, so it is colluding with countries from outside the region including the US and Japan, a Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"It's like inviting wolves into the house," the expert said.

Song Zhongping, another Chinese military expert, told the Global Times that Japan is breaking its military restrictions by changing its principles on arms transfers and exporting weapons to foreign countries like the Philippines.

Japan also aims to contain China's development in concert with the US' Indo-Pacific strategy, Song said.

Using the Philippines and Japan as pawns, the US is strengthening its strategic encirclement on China through allies and partners along the first and second island chains, experts said.

Countries in the South China Sea region should be cautious over this situation of external interference, which could harm the main theme of cooperation and development that benefit all, analysts said.