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Japan, Philippines warned on overflight

Updated: 2015-06-24 07:41
By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)

Beijing warned two of its Asian neighbors on Tuesday to stop agitating in the South China Sea, after a Japanese military patrol plane circled over areas during a drill with the Philippines. The areas are claimed by China.

According to Japanese and Philippine officials, a Japanese P3-C Orion surveillance plane, with three Filipino guest crew members, flew at an altitude of 1,524 meters over an area where the Philippines has competing claims.

The plane was accompanied by a smaller Philippine patrol aircraft.

"This is our first time here," Commander Hiromi Hamano, head of the Japanese navy contingent, was quoted by Reuters as saying. Philippine Marine Colonel Jonas Lumawag said they were practicing "search and rescue patterns".

But Reuters said Japan's move "may be seen by Beijing as tacit support for ownership claims made by the Philippines".

"We hope the relevant parties do not hype up, or even create, tensions in the region and we hope the parties concerned can do more to contribute to peace and stability, rather than the opposite," Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a daily news briefing.

The Philippines began naval exercises with the US and Japan separately on Monday on an island not far from China's Nansha islands.

"It is very clear that Japan's move is targeted at China," said Luo Yongkun, a researcher of Southeast Asian studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

"Japan used to stand behind the US when it comes to the South China Sea issue. But this time it has come to the front by having a joint drill with the Philippines," Luo said.

Xinhua News Agency condemned Japan's rare involvement in a military exercise with the Philippines. It said Tokyo was meddling in the conflict to "press Beijing to divert resources from the East China Sea", where China and Japan are in a dispute over the Diaoyu Islands.

"This seemingly clever maneuver is shortsighted. Beijing will probably not be convinced next time Tokyo says it sincerely wants to improve bilateral ties," a Xinhua commentary said.

Agencies contributed to this story.


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