In a statement, the department emphasised that conducting military exercises in the East Sea is counterproductive to efforts at easing tensions and maintaining stability.

China’s actions will further destabilise the situation in the East Sea, it said, adding such exercises also violate China’s commitments under the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea to avoid activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability.

 

The military exercises are the latest in a long string of China’s actions to assert unlawful maritime claims and disadvantage its Southeast Asian neighbours in the East Sea, the statement added. 

The move stands in contrast to the pledge to not militarise the East Sea and the US' vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, in which all nations, large and small, are secure in their sovereignty, free from coercion, and able to pursue economic growth consistent with accepted international rules and norms, it said.

The US Department of Defence will continue to monitor the situation with the expectation that China will reduce its militarisation and coercion of its neighbours in the East Sea, the statement added. It also calls on all parties to exercise restraint and not undertake military activities that might aggravate disputes in the East Sea.VNA