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Following Chinese exercises, US and Philippines launch largest-ever military exercises near Taiwan


They will last until April 28, with more than 17,600 troops. Military helicopters will operate 300 km from the island.

US and Philippine forces launched their largest-ever combat exercises on Tuesday,

across the disputed South China Sea and Taiwan Strait,

where Washington has repeatedly warned China of its increasingly aggressive actions.

The former treaty allies' annual drills called


, "shoulder to shoulder" (in Filipino), will run through April 28

and involve more than 17,600 military personnel.

It is the latest demonstration of

American firepower in Asia

, as the Biden administration

strengthens an arc of alliances

to better counter China, including in a potential confrontation over Taiwan, a democratic island that Beijing claims as its own.

That dovetails with efforts by the Philippines under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to

defend its territorial interests in the South China Sea,

which China claims virtually in its entirety.

Marcos pushes for joint military exercises with the US or allows rotating batches of US forces to

remain in additional Philippine military camps under a 2014 defense pact.

The exercises for the first time will include

a live-fire maneuver

in the South China Sea, claimed almost entirely by Beijing.

This deployment comes just one day after China concluded three days of military exercises around Taiwan.

Beijing considers Taiwan to be part of its territory and the exercises were in protest of a visit to the United States by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

Filipino and American soldiers sing the anthems of each of their countries.

Photo: Ted Aljibe / AFP

The Chinese drills officially ended on Monday, but Taiwan again detected several Chinese warships and aircraft near its territory on Tuesday.


The two-week Balikatan exercises will see military helicopters landing on the northern tip of the Philippine island of Luzon,

nearly 300 km from Taiwan.

"To protect our sovereign territory, we must prepare to retake a seized island," Colonel Michael Logico, a spokesman for the Philippine armed forces, told reporters after the ceremony to kick off the exercises at a Manila military camp.

The Philippine director for the exercises, Major General Marvin Licudine, speaks with his US counterpart. Photo: Ted Aljibe / AFP

It is the first time that these exercises have been organized under the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos, who

wants to strengthen his ties with Washington

after distancing himself from his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte.

In recent months, the two allies agreed to resume joint maritime patrols in the South China Sea and struck a deal to

expand the US military presence

in the archipelago.

US troops will be allowed to use four other Philippine military bases, including a naval base not far from Taiwan.

The proximity of the Philippines to Taiwan

The Philippines' proximity to Taiwan may make this island country a

crucial US ally

in the event of a Chinese invasion.

China considers Taiwan, an island of democratic and self-government, as part of its territory and advocates retaking it in the future.

On Tuesday at their joint press conference the two allies

did not mention this issue.

Marine Corps Gen. Eric Austin (right) speaks during the announcement of the exercises.

Photo: EFE

The new pact between Manila and Washington

angered China,

which accused the US power of "endangering regional peace and stability."

"Countries in this part of the world should preserve their strategic independence, and firmly resist the mentality of cold war and confrontation between blocs," Chinese Ambassador to Manila Huang Xilian said last week.

"Balikatan" will mobilize

12,200 Americans, 5,400 Filipinos

and about

a hundred Australians,

almost double the number a year ago.

Protests in the Philippines over the presence of US troops in the country.

Photo: EFE

The maneuvers include

amphibious landing tests

on the

island of Palawan

, close to an archipelago claimed by Beijing and Manila, and the use of


Patriot and HIMARS missiles .

It also includes

a live-fire maneuver in the

South China Sea, less than 300 kilometers east of the Scarborough Reef, over which Beijing and Manila are in dispute.

"Through this exercise, the Philippine and United States forces will enhance our interoperability, increase our skills and complement our capabilities through collaboration," said Marine Corps 1st Air Wing Commander, Maj. Gen. Eric austen.

At a ceremony in Manila, Austen added that the exercises would ensure that "we are prepared to respond together to the challenges of the real world."



look too

The United States sent a military ship to waters claimed by China in full tension over Taiwan

Chinese military exercises near Taiwan: "Beijing wanted to show that it has high-precision weapons"

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-04-11

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