The Philippines and the United States have launched an annual military exercise in the South China Sea, near waters where China is engaged in bitter territorial disputes with its neighbors.
Around 5,000 sailors and Marines from both countries began 11-days of maritime maneuvers on Monday. The Philippine Bilateral Exercises, or "Phiblex" is designed to test the readiness of the two allies to respond to emergencies of any kind.
The two countries will practice boat raids, beach landings, live fire exercises and armored maneuvers near the Spratly islands and Scarborough Shoal, where China has been involved in a string of tense confrontations with rival claimants.
Portions of the resource-rich Spratlys are also claimed by Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.