The United States and the Philippines launch the largest joint military exercise ever | outside

The US and Philippine troops on Tuesday launched their largest joint military exercise in the Philippines. This is happening as tensions rise over China’s aggression in the South China Sea and the waters around Taiwan.

About 12,000 American soldiers and 5,400 Filipinos take part in an exercise called Balikatan (shoulder to shoulder), which takes place annually. This year there are also so-calledliveManeuvering in the disputed South China Sea. Real ammo is used in place of blanks.

“to be prepared”

Philippine Army Commander Gen. Andres Centeno said at the opening ceremony that the exercises should ensure that the armed forces of both countries are “ready to respond quickly and effectively to any situation, crisis or emergency under any circumstances.” He also mentioned that the countries thus contribute to the establishment of peace and stability in the region.

Picture of the opening ceremony of Exercise Balikatan. © ANP / EPA

China’s major maneuvers around Taiwan

The Balikatan exercise lasted three weeks and comes amid heightened tensions in the region. A large-scale military exercise conducted by China around Taiwan has just been completed. The Chinese army in recent days is training, among other things, how to isolate Taiwan from the outside world.

The Chinese exercise is in response to a visit to the United States by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. I talked there, among other things, with the speaker of the House of Representatives. Although Taiwan is de facto independent, Beijing views it as a rebellious province that will one day join China.

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look. China conducts “comprehensive encirclement” exercises around Taiwan

The Philippines is also embroiled in a territorial dispute with China over overlapping claims in the South China Sea, where Beijing has seized land and built artificial islands with military facilities. Due to its location in Asia, the Philippines could be an important partner for the United States in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

See also. Taiwan is also showing its strength: it is knocking out a Chinese warship and putting up anti-aircraft defenses

The US-Philippine military exercises are the first under Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., whose predecessor Rodrigo Duterte favored closer ties with China. The Balikatan exercise shows that the two countries have succeeded in strengthening their relations.

On Monday, the Americans ordered a destroyer to fly a mission off the disputed Spratly Islands. The United States said the mission fell under international maritime laws, but Beijing said the ship entered the waters “illegally” without Chinese permission.

Earlier, to China’s chagrin, agreements were made regarding the resumption of naval patrols in the South China Sea and the stationing of more American soldiers in the Philippines.

Opening ceremony photo.
Opening ceremony photo. © AFP

Denton Watson

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