A senior US military officer said Monday the United States would continue joint US-South Korean military exercises in Yellow Sea in the future despite China's concern the war games may provoke Pyongyang.
A South Korean marine tank is seen on Yeonpyeong island in the disputed waters of the Yellow Sea on November 26.
"It demonstrates our strong alliance with South Korea, our ability to defend South Korea," US Army Colonel Patrick Stackpole, Chief of Staff for US Forces in Japan, told a small group of journalists in Tokyo.
"We will continue to conduct those type of exercises to basically show that we are a strong ally with South Korea," Stackpole said.
The four-day exercises starting Sunday came in the wake of North Korea's artillery bombardment of a South Korean island, and included a US aircraft carrier in a bid to deter the North.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters on Thursday that Beijing had "concern" over the action, saying China opposes "any act that undermines peace and stability on the (Korean) peninsula".
Brushing aside China's concerns about the drills, Stackpole defended the war games of which Washington has properly notified Beijing and other countries in advance.
"We communicate with all of the partners," he said. "We are transparent with our exercises in South Korea just like we are with everybody. We will continue to maintain our transparency."
Tensions in the region have escalated after North Korea shelled a South Korean island on Tuesday, killing at least four people, and prompting retaliatory fire from the South.