[REPOST] China on ‘high alert’ over Japanese sub in PH

2 years ago

The Chinese foreign ministry said on Monday the country was on “high alert” for Japan’s military moves in disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

A Japanese submarine will visit the Philippines for the first time in 15 years, along with two warships that will then sail on to Vietnam, in a show of support for nations opposed to Beijing’s ambitions in the South China Sea, a person familiar with the matter said.

Rich in natural resources, the South China Sea is also a major thoroughfare for global trade worth up to $5 billion a year, much of it coming to and from Japanese ports.

The Japanese submarine, which is used for training, and the destroyers will arrive in the Philippines in April. The escort vessels will later sail to Vietnam’s strategic Cam Ranh Bay base on the South China Sea, the source said.

A Japanese Ministry of Defence spokesman declined to comment on any submarine visit but said the navy normally conducted training voyages in March and April.

The visits were first reported by Japanese media, including the Sankei newspaper, on Sunday.

Asked about the visits, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Japan occupied the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea during World War Two so China was on “high alert” for Japan’s military moves there.

“(I) need to point out that the cooperation of relevant countries should benefit regional stability and should not be directed at third parties or harm another country’s sovereignty or security interests. Japan occupied China’s Spratly Islands during World War Two, so we are on high alert for Japan’s moves in the South China Sea,” Hong told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

Of the countries bordering the South China Sea, the Philippines and Vietnam are most opposed to China expanding its influence in the region by building bases on reclaimed islands.

The Philippine military had not received any official notification of a visit by a Japanese submarine, a military spokesman said, though a visit to the Subic Bay naval base was expected.