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China media criticize Philippines over military deal with US

Activists hold placards as they denounce a military deal between the Philippines and the US during a protest outside the US embassy in Manila on January 13, 2016. ©Reuter

Chinese media have criticized the Philippine top court’s recent approval of a controversial military agreement with Washington, which would pave the way for an increased US military presence in the Southeast Asian country.

In an editorial published on Wednesday, China’s official Xinhua news agency described the court ruling as “stupid,” saying the treaty would “only escalate tensions and undermine peace and stability in the region” and “push the situation to the brink of war.”

“The deal is groundless because China, which sticks to a defensive defense policy, has never coerced any country on the South China Sea issue,” the article said.

The piece published came a day after the Philippines’ Supreme Court declared constitutional the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which was signed in Manila in April 2014.

The pact will give US troops broad access to Philippine military bases and allow them to build facilities to store equipment for maritime security as well as humanitarian and disaster response operations.

Activists display placards during a protest against a military deal between the Philippines and the US in front of the Supreme Court in Manila on  January 12, 2016. ©AFP

Dozens of activists staged a demonstration outside the court in the Philippine capital against the contested deal, saying it would turn the country into a launching pad for military intervention in the region.

The court’s decision comes at a time of maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

China claims sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea, which is also claimed in part by Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. The contested waters are believed to be rich in oil and gas.

The dispute has at times drawn in extra-territorial countries, particularly the United States, which have more often sided with China’s rivals.

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