Updated Oct 30, 2018, 7:57:40 AM
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 30) — The U.S. Navy denied there were plans to do 'show of force' in the South China Sea amid ongoing tensions with Beijing.
"It's a policy of mine that I don't comment on future operations but in this case I will say that there is no such operation plan," Admiral John Richardson said Monday.
Earlier, CNN reported that the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet plans to conduct freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait in November, the same month of Chinese President Xi Jinping's official visit to Manila. U.S. defense officials said the exercises are to warn China about the American military's capabilities.
But Richardson said the United States will continue to pursue peaceful ways to resolve conflict.
"You can count on us to be persistent and consistent, and advocates for freedom of navigation through international waters," he said.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua earlier raised concerns over the exercises. But the Philippine government assured that it will not partake in the exercise, as the Armed Forces (AFP) of the Philippines reiterated that there are no scheduled joint military activities between Washington and Manila.
"When the matter was brought up by the Chinese ambassador, we categorically stated from the Armed Forces that there is no military activity between the U.S. Navy and the Philippine Navy during the time of November, when we have a very important visitor coming," AFP's Deputy Chief for Plans MGen. Restituto Padilla said.
Richardson added the U.S. government is looking into providing more training and equipment to the Philippines to mold a stronger working relationship between the two countries' military forces.
Several countries including the U.S. have raised concerns over China's militarization of islands in the South China Sea, a global sea thoroughfare. Manila and Beijing have overlapping claims over some of these islands, but President Rodrigo Duterte developed warmer ties with China despite its refusal to observe a ruling favoring the Philippines' claims over part of the contested waters.
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CNN Philippines' Chad de Guzman contributed to this report.