MANILA, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- China's hosting of a meeting among defense ministers of the ten-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a welcome development and a clear sign of China's peaceful stance, a respected Philippine political analyst Jose Cortez has said.
Speaking of Beijing's hosting of an informal gathering of ASEAN defense ministers this week, Cortez told Xinhua in a recent interview: "I think the gathering will definitely ease tension in the area."
"It is superb confidence-building measure that clearly indicates that China is not going to use force in settling the South China Sea row as consistently bandied around by the U.S.," he said.
Cortez, who writes in-depth analysis in the Philippine Graphic, a weekly news magazine in Manila, said that China's move would help preserve the peace and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region, one of the fastest growing regions in the world.
In the interview with Xinhua, Cortez also expressed fears that the U.S. is just using the maritime dispute in South China Sea to sow dissension among countries in the region as part of its "pivot to Asia" policy.
As part of this pivot, Cortez said, the United States is now expanding its military presence in the Philippines by holding joint military exercises with Philippine troops.
The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the United States and the Philippines was signed on April 28, 2014 in Manila.
The EDCA seeks to bolster the U.S.-Philippines security relationship by allowing the United States to station troops and operations on Philippine territory.