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Wednesday, December 9, 2015, 09:46

China keeping an eye on US plane deployment

By Agencies

China keeping an eye on US plane deployment
This photo obtained from the US Navy shows a P-8A Poseidon aircraft as it departs Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington for Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, where it joined other Poseidon aircraft as part of the War Eagles of Patrol Squadron (VP) 16, the Navy's first operational P-8A squadron on November 20, 2014. (AFP PHOTO/US NAVY/BO EING AIRCRAFT/HANDOUT)

BEIJING - China's military is paying "close attention" to an agreement between the United States and Singapore to deploy the US P8 Poseidon spy plane to the city state and hopes the move does not harm regional stability, the defence ministry said.

"We are paying close attention to how the relevant situation develops, and hope bilateral defence cooperation between the relevant countries is beneficial to regional peace and stability and not the opposite," the ministry said in a brief statement late on Tuesday.

A stronger US military presence does "not conform to the common and long-term interests among the regional countries," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chuying told reporters at a daily briefing on Tuesday.

"So we hope the relevant side does more to enhance mutual trust among regional countries, and thus benefit the regional peace and development," Hua said.

In a joint statement after a meeting in Washington on Monday, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen welcomed the inaugural deployment of the aircraft in Singapore from Dec 7 to 14.

A US defence official said further deployments in Singapore could be expected. The move comes at a time of heightened tensions in the South China Sea.

The United States already operates P8s from Japan and the Philippines, and has conducted surveillance flights from Singapore's neighbour, Malaysia.

In late October, Washington angered China by sending a warship on a freedom-of-navigation patrol within the 12-nautical-mile territorial limit of China's Zhubi Reef in the South China Sea. Beijing has also expressed displeasure over US surveillance flights in the area.

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