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China's Defense Ministry Criticizes US Missile Deployment in Philippines

In a stern rebuke issued jointly from Beijing and Manila on Thursday, China's Ministry of National Defense vehemently denounced the recent deployment of a U.S. intermediate-range missile system in the northern Philippines. The deployment occurred during military exercises conducted in April and was labeled as a move that "brought huge risks of war into the region," according to Defence Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian during a press briefing in Beijing.

Wu expressed China's unwavering opposition and heightened vigilance regarding the deployment, which marks the first of its kind in the Indo-Pacific region. He underscored that the actions of the United States and the Philippines posed a significant threat to regional peace, emphasizing that intermediate-range missiles are strategic and offensive weapons reminiscent of the Cold War era.

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Notably, China itself maintains a robust arsenal of advanced intermediate-range missiles as part of its conventional ballistic missile program. The U.S. disclosed last month that it had deployed its Typhon missile system to the Philippines as part of the Balikatan military drills, dubbed "shoulder-to-shoulder" exercises.

Colonel Michael Logico of the Philippine military revealed in April that the missile system, capable of launching Tomahawk land attack and SM-6 missiles, had been transported to Laoag city in the northern province of Ilocos Norte. However, details regarding the current whereabouts of the weapon system remain unclear, with no confirmation on whether it has been relocated or remains stationed in the Philippines.

Although the missile system was not fired during the exercises, it was transported to assess the feasibility of airlifting the 40-ton weapon system. Attempts to reach a spokesperson from the Philippines military for comment were unsuccessful at the time of reporting.

The annual drills, involving approximately 16,000 Filipino and U.S. soldiers, were conducted partly in northern Philippine islands near Taiwan and in western waters facing the South China Sea. This area is a focal point of contention, with China embroiled in territorial disputes with the Philippines and other regional claimants.

China had expressed discontent with the exercises, cautioning against destabilization when external powers "flex muscles and stoke confrontation." Both Philippine and U.S. officials reiterated that the drills aimed to enhance interoperability between their respective forces and were not directed at any specific country.

May 31, 2024 4:35 p.m. 414

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