'Endangering peace': China warns PH over EDCA expansion plans with US

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 10) — The Chinese Embassy in Manila on Friday countered the remarks made by a United States official and warned the Philippines against opening up additional sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland earlier said putting up the new sites would create economic opportunities for the Philippines.

She also talked about the promises made by Beijing and asked if most of these promises benefited Filipinos. This did not sit well with China.

"Economy and trade cannot flourish without a peaceful and stable regional environment," the Chinese embassy said in a statement.

"However, some Americans claim that the four additional military sites in the Philippines to which US forces would have access under the EDCA would bring economic 'opportunities, jobs' to their host communities, and discredit China-Philippines economic cooperation at the same time," it added.

China said such remarks showed "total ignorance" of the Philippines' pursuit of peace and cooperation with the East Asian giant.

The embassy added that the additional EDCA sites would only cause instability in the region.

"Creating economic opportunities and jobs through military cooperation is tantamount to quenching thirst with poison and gouging flesh to heal wounds," the embassy said. "Such cooperation will seriously endanger regional peace and stability and drag the Philippines into the abyss of geopolitical strife and damage its economic development at the end of the day."

US responds

The US embassy reiterated that it remains committed to its defense ties with the Philippines.

"The United States and the Philippines stand together as friends, partners, and allies," it said in a statement. "Now and always, the US commitment to the defense of the Philippines is ironclad, and we are committed to strengthening our economic and investment relationship."

PH-China ties over the years

Meanwhile, the Chinese embassy noted the cooperation between Manila and Beijing, which has been ongoing in many fronts, including infrastructure, economy, and tourism.

"Around 40 government-to-government cooperation projects have been completed or are in progress, including Binondo-Intramuros Bridge, Davao-Samal Bridge and Chico River Pump Irrigation Project," the embassy said.

China is also the Philippines' largest trading partner, import source, and third foreign direct investment source.

The embassy also cited the benefits of the recent visit of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to Beijing and his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"Since the state visit many Chinese business delegations are coming to the Philippines, reaching extensive agreements on expanding trade and investment cooperation between the two countries, demonstrating the huge potential and broad prospects of China-Philippines practical cooperation," the embassy noted.