USA and Philippines hold joint military exercises

2024-04-22 05:47:51

In view of increasing tensions with China, joint military exercises between the Southeast Asian country and the USA have begun in the Philippines. “We will show the Filipino people and the world that we have gotten better and will never stop,” said US Naval Commander in charge of the Pacific William Jurney at the opening ceremony in Manila on Monday.

The annual Balikatan (Tagalog for “shoulder to shoulder”) exercises focus primarily on the northern and western parts of the Philippines – near potential trouble spots in the South China Sea and Taiwan. The Philippine Coast Guard is also taking part for the first time.

The Balikatan exercises simulate the armed recapture of an island off the western province of Palawan near the South China Sea. The same exercise will be held in the northern provinces of Cagayan and Batanes, both less than 300 kilometers from Taiwan. Other exercises cover information warfare, maritime security and integrated air and missile defense.

“The purpose of the armed forces, the reason we exist, is to prepare for war,” Philippine army official Michael Logico told reporters before the drills began.

Beijing sees the island of Taiwan, which has been separated since 1949, as a breakaway territory. China also claims almost the entire South China Sea for itself. Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam also claim parts of the sea area.

Tensions in the region have increased sharply in recent months. Recently there have been several confrontations between Chinese and Filipino ships near disputed reefs.

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The tensions, as well as China’s increasingly aggressive behavior towards the self-ruled island of Taiwan, have prompted US President Joe Biden to strengthen alliances in the region. Due to its geographical proximity to Taiwan, the Philippines is an important partner for the USA in the event of a conflict with China over the Taiwan issue.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has accused the US of “fomenting military confrontation” with the joint exercises. The Philippines warned Beijing “not to go down the wrong path.”

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