China said Wednesday increasing US military deployment in the region causes provocation, in response to a senior US Navy official's criticism of next month's planned Sino-Russian naval exercises in the South China Sea next month.
"The drill is routine between China and Russia, and does not target any third party," the Ministry of National Defense told the Global Times Wednesday.
On the contrary, the rise in US military deployment in the South China Sea on so-called freedom of navigation missions provokes China politically and militarily, sabotaging regional peace and stability, according to the department.
The joint drill's location is not conducive to "increasing regional stability," US Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Scott Swift was quoted by the Associated Press as saying on Tuesday. "There are other places those exercises could have been conducted," Swift said, adding that he was confident the US Navy would continue to sail close to China's islands in what are called freedom of navigation missions.
The drill will consolidate and develop the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, deepen pragmatic and friendly cooperation between the two militaries, and enhance the capabilities of the two navies to jointly deal with maritime security threats, defense ministry spokesperson Yang Yujun said last month.