It is China’s “principled position” that non-regional actors like the United States will refrain from stirring up troubles in the South China Sea.
This was the statement made by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang in reaction to reports that USS Wasp sailed near the Scarborough Shoal early this week.
“I may need to check on the specific situation. I can tell you that the principled position of the Chinese side is that we hope non-regional forces will refrain from stirring up troubles in the calm South China Sea,” the Chinese official said at a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday.
According to reports, the USS Wasp, carrying at least 10 F-35Bs, four MV-22 Ospreys and two MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopters, has been training with Philippine Navy ships in Subic Bay and in international waters off the South China Sea as part of the ongoing Balikatan (Tagalog for Shoulder-to-shoulder) joint military exercise between the United States and Philippine forces.
This is the first deployment of the USS Wasp and F-35B Lightning II fighters to the Philippines for the Balikatan exercise.
Capt. Jim McGovern, commander of Amphibious Squadron 11, which comprises four warships including the Wasp, said the deployment shows the value that the U.S. places on military ties to the Philippines.
“Nothing says ‘you’re important’ like sending a ship with the capability of the Wasp,” the US Navy official said.
“We have a lot of capability on this ship,” McGovern said.
Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippine were reportedly aboard the ship as part of the joint exercise.
It has been the position of the U.S. and its allies to continue to “sail, fly and operate wherever international law allows.”