BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Monday agreements like the one reached last week by the United States and the Philippines allowing for a U.S. military presence at five Philippine bases raised questions about militarization in the South China Sea.
The United States is keen to boost the military capabilities of East Asian countries and its own regional presence in the face of China's assertive pursuit of territorial claims in the South China Sea, one of the world's busiest trade routes.
The United States and its regional allies have expressed concern that China is militarizing the South China Sea with moves to build airfields and other military facilities on the islands it occupies.
Asked about the base deal, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that U.S.-Philippine cooperation should not be targeted at any third party nor harm other nations' sovereignty or security interests.
"I also want to point out that recently the U.S. military likes to talk about the so-called militarization of the South China Sea," Hua told a daily news conference.
"Can they then explain, isn't this kind of continued strengthening of military deployments in the South China Sea and areas surrounding it considered militarization?"
China claims most of the energy-rich waters through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Neighbors Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)