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Beijing rejects Pentagon’s criticism of military drills in S. China Sea

Beijing rejects Pentagon’s criticism of military drills in S. China Sea

The Foreign Ministry in Beijing on Friday rejected criticism by the US Defense Department of its plan to hold military exercises in the South China Sea. Spokesman Zhao Lijian said the drills are within the scope of China’s sovereignty, adding that certain “non-regional countries” conducting military exercises in the sea are affecting the region’s stability.

Last week, China announced it had scheduled five days of drills starting on July 1 near the Paracel Islands, which are claimed by both Vietnam and China.

The Pentagon said in a statement on Thursday that conducting military exercises over disputed territory in the South China Sea was “counter-productive to efforts at easing tensions and maintaining stability.”

Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin warned China on Friday “it will be met with the severest response, diplomatic and whatever else is appropriate” should the exercises spill over to Philippines territory, Reuters reports.