Wargames start under China’s shadow

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Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will kick off expanded wargames on Monday, showcasing a deepening defense alliance as alarm bells ring over China.

The 10-day exercises in the Philippines are an annual affair between the longtime allies, but this time they will involve double the number of soldiers as last year in a sign of their expanding military partnership.

The Philippines is seeking more US military and diplomatic support to fend off China’s increasing forcefulness in its bid to assert sovereignty in disputed areas of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

President Benigno Aquino 3rd last week said the two militaries operating side-by-side should offer a “deterrent aspect to any entity, be it a country or Islamic radicals.”


Aquino insisted the Balikatan (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) wargames starting on Monday were not directed at China, pointing out they were annual exercises, but he discussed at length the Philippines’ reliance on the United States.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario also said last week the Philippines planned to ask Washington for extra help in containing China.

“We are, at this point, seeking additional support from the US in terms of being able to take a stronger position, in defending our position, which is to uphold the rule of law,” del Rosario told local broadcaster ANC.

Beijing claims sovereignty over most of the strategically important South China Sea, including areas just off the coasts of other Asian nations, using vague demarcation lines that first appeared on Chinese maps in the 1940s.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

China has sought to expand its presence in disputed parts of the sea in recent years, including by taking control of a shoal that is a rich fishing ground within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

It has also embarked on giant reclamation works on reefs and islets, turning some into islands capable of hosting military aircraft landing strips.

‘Elbowed aside’
The Philippines has been the most vocal of the rival claimants to express alarm over China’s moves.

Aquino warned that the world should fear China’s actions in the South China Sea.
US President Barack Obama also expressed concern this month, criticizing China for “using its sheer size and muscle to force countries into subordinate positions.”

“Just because the Philippines or Vietnam are not as large as China, doesn’t mean that they can just be elbowed aside,” Obama said.

China has repeatedly insisted it has sovereign rights to the contested areas, so criticism of its reclamation and other activities in the area are baseless.

The US has been looking to rebuild its military presence in the Philippines, a former colony where it had naval and air bases until the early 1990s, as part of Obama’s “pivot to Asia.”

The two nations, bound by a 1951 mutual defense treaty, last year signed another pact that would allow more US forces in the Philippines, although the Supreme Court in Manila still needs to ratify it.

Even without the implementation of the new pact, more than 12,000 soldiers from both sides will be involved in this year’s Balikatan exercises, double last year’s number.

On Tuesday, marines will conduct beach landing exercises from a naval base facing the West Philippine Sea.

Aside from the naval base, live fire and disaster response drills will also be held in various military camps outside Manila.

AFP

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4 Comments

  1. Ikabod Bubwit on

    Wargames ??? Pakitang-tao lang yan ng mga kano. The yanks will naver fight the Chinese over the Spratleys. Wala silang negosyo sa Spratleys !!!

    Si BS Aquino nag-papauto sa mga kano para protektahan ang mga kapitalista sa Pilipinas !!! Hindi para labanan ang mga intsik !!!

  2. Ang china ang ginawa ng USA at si Aquino na dahilan upang ang base at training ng kano ay hindi questionin ng mga mambabatas at tao bayan,katulad ng ginawa noon ng pagpapalayas sa base ng kano sa olangapo!
    Abalang-abala ang utak at isipan ng pinoy laban sa China,ngayon wala pa naman ginagawang masama ang mga ito at halos lahat ng prudokto ng china ay narito sa pinas! At sila ang maraming turista sa ating bansa!
    Ibang klase ang pagkatuta ni Aquino,lahat gagawin masunod lang niya ang amo niyang kano!

  3. sonny dela cruz on

    Now, we will see then, when the Communist China and the Russians will have their own Military exercises too in China sea. China has a military pact or alliance with Russia and China has been eager to have a joint military exercises too. I could smell gun powder soon. The Philippines should be prepared a contingency of manpower, food and water for a possible conflict in the area. China thinks they are already a super power and it seems they will not back down against the United States. Once you hear the British, Canadians, Australians and other members of the Lords are coming, something is developing, Filipinos should prepared for any eventuality.