Pentagon condemns Chinese military drills near Paracel Islands

(VOVWORLD) -The US Defense Department condemned China's recent military exercises around the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago in the South China Sea (called the East Sea in Vietnam), calling them a violation of China's commitments to maintain stability in the region. 

The Department said Thursday that conducting military exercises in disputed territory in the South China Sea is counterproductive to efforts to ease tensions and maintain stability.

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

The Pentagon said the military exercises are the latest in a long string of Chinese actions "to assert unlawful maritime claims and disadvantage its Southeast Asian neighbors in the South China Sea." It urged China to cease its militarization and coercion of its neighbors in the waters.

The Maritime Safety Administration of China's Hainan province has announced plans to hold military exercises near Vietnam's Paracel Islands from Wednesday to Sunday.