Beijing: Keeping a close watch on Malabar exercises involving the navies of India, Japan and the US, a wary China on Friday reacted cautiously to the drills hoping that they would be conducive to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
"We have noticed the report," the Chinese Defence Ministry said in e-mail response to a query about its reaction to the Malabar exercises which began off Japan`s coast yesterday.
"We hope defence cooperation among relevant countries can be conducive to peace and stability in the region," it said.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei in a more detailed response said countries in the region should help to build a more harmonious Asia-Pacific with mutual trust.
"China actively promotes the Asian Security Concept that is based on common, comprehensive and sustainable security. A harmonious and stable Asia-Pacific region built on the basis of mutual trust among all countries is in line with the common interests of all countries in this region," Hong said.
"But at the same time it also requires all sides to put in an effort. We have noticed the relevant moves and hope that the actions by the relevant countries could follow this direction and should help in building mutual trust among the countries of the region and regional peace and stability," he said.
China had in the past objected to the participation of Japan and other countries in the Malabar series naval drills held mainly between India and the US. The last exercise involving Japan was held in 2009.
Japan continues to be a very sensitive point for China as the relations between the two nose-dived in the recent past due to a dispute over islands in East China Sea.
Their navies and military jets jostled with each other to assert their claims over the unmanned islands.
Beijing`s ties with Washington also bogged down over the US support to Japan as well as to the Philippines and Vietnam over the South and East China Sea maritime disputes.
While stepping up its own political and military
engagement with India, China is keeping a close watch on how the new Indian government shapes its policies with Japan as well as the US.
The "highly complex" naval wargames in the Pacific Ocean in the area adjacent to the East China Sea involve the US Navy`s latest aircraft carrier USS George Washington, a nuclear submarine USS Columbus.
The three Indian warships taking part in the wargames earlier held exercises with the Russian Navy in Vladivostok last week.
The Japanese Maritime Self Defence Forces have chipped in with their two destroyers, along with the US-2 amphibious war planes, which have been offered to India for sale.
India and the US have held 17 editions of the Malabar- series war games since 1992 and had involved Japan along with Australia and Singapore in 2007 in the Pacific Ocean after which the Chinese government raised objections.
India had stopped involving others but last year after the visit of Indian Prime Minister to Japan and the reciprocal visit by the Japanese Prime Minister, India agreed to have Japan in these drills.