The US Department of Defense said it is concerned about the People’s Republic of China (PRC) decision to conduct military exercises around the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on July 1-5.
The designated area where the exercises are due to take place encompass contested waters and territory.
“Conducting military exercises over disputed territory in the South China Sea is counterproductive to efforts at easing tensions and maintaining stability. The PRC’s actions will further destabilize the situation in the South China Sea,” the US Department of Defense said in a statement.
According to the US Department of Defense, such exercises also violate PRC commitments under the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to avoid activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability.
The military exercises are the latest in a long string of China’s actions to assert unlawful maritime claims and disadvantage its Southeast Asian neighbors in the South China Sea, the Department of Defense said.
“The PRC’s actions stand in contrast to its pledge to not militarize the South China Sea and the United States’ vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, in which all nations, large and small, are secure in their sovereignty, free from coercion, and able to pursue economic growth consistent with accepted international rules and norms,” the US Department of Defense said.
The Department of Defense said it will continue to monitor the situation with the expectation that China will reduce its militarization and coercion of its neighbors in the South China Sea.
“We urge all parties to exercise restraint and not undertake military activities that might aggravate disputes in the South China Sea,” the US Department of Defense statement concluded.