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Japan's Presence in South China Sea Is 'Unacceptable,' China Says

U.S. patrols in the South China Sea will be permitted but a Japanese military presence there is "unacceptable," according to a Chinese general.
Image: The Philippines were holding a naval exercises with the United States and Japan.
The U.S. warship SNS Safeguard is anchored at a port on the island of Palawan, western Philippines, on June 23, to participate in a drill near the disputed South China Sea. FRANCIS R. MALASIG / EPA

BEIJING — U.S. patrols in the disputed South China Sea will be permitted but a Japanese military presence there is "unacceptable," according to a Chinese general.

“The United States used to have military bases in Southeast Asia, like in the Philippines and even in Vietnam, and they have military cooperation with Singapore, so American military presence in the South China Sea is acceptable to China,” said Major General Zhu Chenghu, a professor of strategic studies at China’s National Defense University. Zhu is known for his hawkish views towards the United States.

“As for the Japanese military presence, it is very difficult for the Chinese people and the Chinese government to accept it,” he added.

China has been building artificial islands in the Spratlys — which are also known as the Nansha Islands.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan have overlapping claims in the South China Sea, a strategic maritime lane with rich fishing grounds and potentially huge oil deposits.

On Friday, the State Department's number two diplomat compared China's behavior in pursuit of territory in the South China Sea to that of Russia in eastern Ukraine.

The weekend forum of policy scholars was attended by Stephen Hadley, who was national security advisor to President George W. Bush, and retired U.S. Navy Admiral Gary Roughhead. The South China Sea disputes proved to be among the most contentious of the global strategic issues debated.

Beijing’s decision not to announce the exact coordinates of its expansive maritime claims — which has drawn criticism from Washington —is “because China has not negotiated with neighbors yet,” Zhu said. He suggested the “strategic ambiguity” would encourage diplomatic resolution.

U.S. defense officials last month revealed that China had put two large artillery vehicles on one of the artificial islands.

In April, the Philippines released aerial photographs of China's "massive" construction project in the Spratly islands and warned of its potential impact on regional stability as well as on coral reefs.