Metro Manila— 
The Chinese government expressed its strong opposition to what it called “meddling” in the South China Sea issue following the release of Philippines-US bilateral defense guidelines, seeing it to inflict “harm” on its sovereignty rights and interests.

“China firmly opposes any country’s move to meddle in the South China Sea issue to harm China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests by citing the guidelines,” its Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told during a press conference Thursday when asked for his comment on the issued defense guidelines.

She also claimed that the “concerted efforts” of nations in the region have “maintained overall stability” in the contested waterway, despite earlier reports of bullying and aggressive tactics from some Asian countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia.

Just before President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and the Philippine delegation flew to Washington, DC last Sunday, a near-collision incident involving Filipino and Chinese coast guard vessels in the West Philippine Sea was reported.

A Chinese warship was also spotted in Philippine waters, even ordering patrol vessels to leave the area, according to the Philippine Coast Guard.

But Mao maintained that the South China Sea is a “shared home” for countries in the region.

She even hit the US government, saying it is “not a hunting ground for forces outside the region.”

Sought for his reaction during a briefing on Friday, Marcos said the statement was directed to the American government.

During the five-day official trip to the US, top defense officials of the two countries established new bilateral defense guidelines that seek to “modernize alliance cooperation.”