(Bloomberg) -- The Philippines won’t be showing up at the gathering in China this week of the world’s senior naval officials, an event that coincides with the onset of the Southeast Asian nation’s annual joint drills with US.

China’s coastal city of Qingdao is hosting the four-day biennial Western Pacific Naval Symposium until Wednesday. Twenty-nine out of the 30 countries comprising the group will be present this year, including the US. China regrets the Philippines’ absence, a representative for the People’s Liberation Army Navy said.

The Philippine military hasn’t responded to a request for comment on why it didn’t send a representative to the event.

China is hosting the event as the US and the Philippines started joint military exercises. Ties between Beijing and Manila have increasingly been strained as they assert overlapping claims in the South China Sea. 

China is committed to settling maritime disputes through consultation “with the countries directly concerned,” Zhang Youxia, vice chair of the PLA’s top body said at the opening ceremony on Monday, without identifying the country. “We will resolutely counter unreasonable provocations,” he said.

Admiral Stephen Koehler, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, leads the American delegation to the forum in Qingdao and is expected to meet his Chinese counterparts, the South China Morning Post reported Sunday.

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