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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs