THE Chinese Embassy in Manila said the United States (US) is only using the Philippines for its “selfish geopolitical interests” by adding more Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) sites in the country as it upholds the Mutual Defense Treaty.

In a statement, the Chinese Embassy in Manila said the US, “out of its cold-war mentality,” keeps on upgrading its military cooperation with the Philippines not really to help the country but to encircle China.

“Whereas the US claims that such cooperation is intended to help the disaster relief efforts of the Philippines and some Americans even tout the Edca sites as driver of local economy, it is plain and simple that those moves are part of the US efforts to encircle and contain China through its military alliance with this country,” it said.

“To bundle the Philippines into the chariots of geopolitical strife will seriously harm Philippine national interests and endanger regional peace and stability,” it added.

The Chinese Embassy was reacting to the statement of US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson that having more Edca sites in several provinces of the Philippines, particularly Cagayan and Isabela, would not only help the provincial and local authorities to enhance their ability to defend themselves but also to grow their economy.

The establishment of more Edca sites in the country was supported by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Carlson also said the US-Philippine joint patrols in the South China Sea will be one important component of making sure that the waterways are free and open.

The embassy maintained, however, that freedom of navigation in the South China Sea was never a problem.

“When talking about free and open waterways, what the US has in its mind is actually the freedom of rampage of its warships in the South China Sea. The US military has been coming all the way from the other side of the Pacific to stir up trouble in the South China Sea and ganging up with its allies from other parts of the world to flex muscle in the South China Sea,” it said.

“By doing these, the US has not only heightened tension, driven wedge between China and the Philippines, but also has disturbed and upset the joint effort of countries in this region to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea,” it added.

It also said that China and the Philippines should maintain “good neighborliness” in order to attain mutual benefit instead of “getting distracted by forces who are fanning the flame and driving a wedge between us, even less inviting a bully into our community.”

“We need to focus on cooperation and development, and truly safeguard, promote and build peace, stability, prosperity of our region and bring more tangible benefits to people of our two countries,” it added.

The Philippine government has filed hundreds of diplomatic protests against China over the past years for harassing Filipino fishermen and troops amid disputes in the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea.

Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier reiterated that developing the US-Philippine engagements is not intended to engage in war but to build deterrence. (SunStar Philippines)