China remark on new EDCA sites smacks of hypocrisy, double standard - expert


Posted at Apr 05 2023 03:33 PM

Philippine and US marines simulate an amphibious landing as part of the annual joint military exercise in San Antonio, Zambales on May 9, 2018. The US and Philippine militaries launched major exercises on May 7 aimed at fighting global terrorism, while staying mostly quiet on Beijing's reported installation of missiles in the disputed South China Sea. Ted Aljibe, AFP

MANILA — An analyst on Wednesday assailed China's reaction to 4 additional locations that US troops could use in the Philippines under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), saying it reeks of "hypocrisy" and "double standard".

"Number 1, it is a case of hypocrisy on their part," De La Salle University international studies professor Renato De Castro told ANC's "Headstart".

"Number 2, it is a case of double standard."

China warned on Tuesday that Washington was "endangering regional peace" in the new deal that would see 4 more bases be used by US troops, including one near the disputed South China Sea and another not far from Taiwan.

"Out of self-interest, the US maintains a zero-sum mentality and continues to strengthen its military deployment in the region," foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said.

But De Castro argued it was not the US that triggered the tension in the South China Sea.

"It's China's maritime expansion," he said.

With the world's largest navy, China has militarized islands in the disputed waters, the analyst said. Incidents of harassment of Chinese ships towards Philippine vessels and fishermen are also frequent.

"If countries react to it, we are entitled to do so," De Castro stressed.

In a round table discussion Tuesday, visiting Chinese experts from the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative said the Philippines had gone too far and might came across as meddling in the conflict between China and US over Taiwan.

They said Manila could get caught in the middle in case of a dispute between Washington and Beijing.

De Castro slammed the remark of Chinese experts as double standard.

"China always emphasized the need for non-intervention in domestic affairs, the importance of sovereignty," the analyst said.

"But telling us what to do indicates that China is actively intervening in our domestic affairs. Probably these Chinese experts think that we are still a province of China," he added.

In February, Manila and Washington agreed to expand cooperation in "strategic areas" of the Philippines as they sought to counter Beijing's growing assertiveness over self-governed Taiwan and China's construction of bases in the South China Sea.

The 2014 EDCA gave US forces access to 5 Philippine bases. It was later expanded to 9 in which the location of the 4 new bases were announced by Malacañang Monday.

The new EDCA sites, including one near the disputed South China Sea and another not far from Taiwan, are located in Naval Base Camilo Osias in Santa Ana, Cagayan, Lal-lo Airport in Lal-lo, Cagayan, Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela and Balabac Island in Palawan.

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— With a report from Agence France-Presse