News

Philippines, US Begin Military Exercises as Standoff With China Continues

Protesters display placards during their rally outside the Chinese Consulate at the financial district of Makati city, east of Manila, Philippines, April 16, 2012.
Protesters display placards during their rally outside the Chinese Consulate at the financial district of Makati city, east of Manila, Philippines, April 16, 2012.
Simone Orendain

Thousands of United States and Philippine troops kicked off joint military exercises Monday against the backdrop of a standoff in the South China Sea, between the Philippines and China.

U.S. military officials say at 4,500 this is the largest number of American troops who will participate in annual war games with the Philippine military. They are joining 2,300 Filipino troops. In speeches during the opening ceremonies of the two-week event, called “balikatan” or shoulder-to-shoulder in Filipino, officials from both countries reaffirmed their commitment to upholding their mutual defense partnership.

Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Jesse Dellosa, said while the partnership has helped with the country’s response to internal threats, there still remains a “shadow of doubt” in the country’s ability to handle certain international issues - a reference to the territorial dispute with China.

“Given the international situation we are in, I say that this exercise, in connection with all those that we have had in the past, is a timely and mutually beneficial event for us and our U.S. counterparts,” he said.

Last week, the Philippine Navy discovered at least eight Chinese fishing vessels near Scarborough Shoal, which Manila says is well within its exclusive economic zone. Officials say the boats held endangered marine resources such as giant clams and live sharks and they tried to make arrests and confiscate the contraband.

But Chinese government ships intervened, going between the warship and the fishing boats. After days of diplomatic talks that hit a stalemate, the fishing vessels left with their cargo intact, and a Philippine Coast Guard ship was left facing the two Chinese surveillance vessels.

The Philippines, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei all have competing claims in the South China Sea. China claims nearly the entire sea based on a historical map. The Philippines says the shoal is part of its territory based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which designates a country’s exclusive economic zone as 370 kilometers from its coastline.

The contested sea straddles some of the world’s busiest sea lanes, has abundant fishing waters and is a potential source of vast oil and natural gas reserves.

Some of the joint exercises this year are taking place on Palawan, an island province that sits on the South China Sea. A U.S. military spokesman says one of the drills involves the retaking of a Philippine oil rig at the hands of terrorists in the South China Sea.

Although China has consistently expressed displeasure over the waters being an exercise site, U.S. and Philippine officials say the war games are aimed at crisis planning for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Philippine Army spokesman Major Emmanuel Garcia says there is no cause for alarm.

“No country in the Pacific or anywhere in the world should be concerned about the exercise because this exercise is not directed toward any nation," said Garcia. "This exercise is purely for the [uplifting] of the skills of both the Philippine and U.S. soldiers in responding to disasters whether manmade or natural.”

On Sunday the deputy presidential spokeswoman said that the joint exercises are not a show of force against China. Spokeswoman Abigail Valte says the standoff is to be resolved through diplomatic means.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs