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Chinese President Xi Jinping with visiting Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jnr in Beijing in January. Photo: Xinhua via AP

China slams Manila again over closer US military ties, warns against ‘drawing wolves into the house’

  • Second statement in three days from embassy in Manila includes stern warning to government of President Ferdinand Marcos Jnr
  • US military cooperation just a ploy to ‘pull the Philippines against China’ and tie it to the ‘chariot of geopolitical strife’, embassy says
Beijing has stepped up its criticism of the Philippines’ decision to seek closer US military ties, while accusing Washington of pulling the country against China and towards “geopolitical strife”.

The Philippines must stop veering into “the evil path of drawing wolves into the house”, the Chinese embassy in Manila said on Sunday, issuing a stern warning to the government of President Ferdinand Marcos Jnr in what was its second statement on the issue in three days.

Despite vows to strengthen ties during Marcos Jnr’s visit to Beijing in January, bilateral relations have been strained in recent weeks after Manila decided to lean towards the US to counter China’s maritime assertiveness, as tensions simmer over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

The latest embassy statement came after the US ambassador to Manila, MaryKay Carlson, said Marcos Jnr’s decision to open up four additional sites to US forces under the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) would help to develop the local economy.


US to gain expanded access to Philippine military bases in bid to counter China

US to gain expanded access to Philippine military bases in bid to counter China

“In order to maintain its own hegemony, the US has been escalating its military cooperation with the Philippines and increasing its military bases and deployments in the country out of geopolitical self-interest and a Cold War mentality,” the Chinese statement said.

“[Such military cooperation is] in fact a way to pull the Philippines against China and tie the country to the chariot of geopolitical strife, seriously jeopardising Philippine national interests and regional peace and stability.”

The statement also accused the US of “stirring up trouble in the South China Sea” with its muscle-flexing maritime patrols, which it said intended to “interfere with and undermine China-Philippines efforts to maintain peace and stability” in the disputed waters.

Manila, US eye joint South China Sea patrols to counter Beijing’s ‘aggression’

While the first statement on Friday put the blame almost squarely on the US, the latest one seemed to also take aim at the Marcos Jnr government.

“Now that China and the Philippines, among other countries in the region, are at a critical juncture of post-Covid recovery, we should keep to the right track of maintaining good-neighbourliness and attaining mutual benefit rather than getting distracted by forces who are fanning the flames and driving a wedge between us,” it said.

“We should abandon the perverse path of sowing dissension and causing trouble, not to mention the evil path of drawing wolves into the house and opening the door for thieves.”

The first statement – issued after US under secretary of state Victoria Nuland visited the Philippines last week – had also slammed the two countries’ military cooperation as “endangering regional peace and stability”.

China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, where the Philippines Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan have competing claims.

‘Leave immediately’: China ship warns Philippine jet flying over Spratlys

In a departure from his Beijing-friendly predecessor Rodrigo Duterte, Marcos Jnr last month called the maritime dispute with China “the most complicated geopolitical situation in the world” and said the Philippine military would focus on external defence.

He summoned China’s ambassador after a February 6 incident in which laser light used by a Chinese coastguard ship allegedly temporarily blinded crew members on a Philippine patrol boat off a disputed reef in the Spratly Islands, over which both nations claim sovereignty.


Chinese military ship accused of shining laser light at Philippine coastguard vessel

Chinese military ship accused of shining laser light at Philippine coastguard vessel
Beijing has also been unhappy with Manila’s loud protests against Chinese vessels sailing near disputed waters and reports that it was discussing joint South China Sea patrols with the US, Japan and Australia.

China on Friday reiterated its sovereignty claims over the Spratlys, known in Chinese as the Nansha Islands, and its adjacent waters.

“Therefore, it is reasonable and legal for Chinese ships to carry out normal activities in waters under China’s jurisdiction,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said.