16 April 2012

US-Philippines Exercises: Thumbing Noses at Chinese?

Yes, they've been scheduled forever, but the US and Philippine South China Sea drills seem to be a stick in the eye at the Chinese.

Joint military exercises between the US and the Philippines are getting under way in the South China Sea, even as Manila remained locked in a stand-off with Beijing over a disputed shoal.

The annual exercises, called Balikatan, are due to run until 27 April.

This year they are taking place off Palawan, near parts of the South China Sea both Manila and Beijing claim.

Meanwhile Philippine and Chinese vessels remain at the Scarborough Shoal, a week after the deadlock began.

The Philippines said its warship found eight Chinese fishing vessels at the shoal - which both sides claim - when it was patrolling the area on 8 April.

The Beeb's quickie analysis is also good.

China insists that its rights in areas like the disputed Spratly Islands are paramount, despite rival claims from the Philippines, Vietnam and other countries too.

The government in Manila is taking steps to modernise its small naval and air forces. But it is looking to Washington to help balance China's growing power.

Two decades after US forces were evicted from their biggest base in the Pacific, there has been talk of a renewed US military presence. The fact that the joint exercises are being held on the island of Palawan - the closest Philippines territory to the Spratlys - will doubtless irritate China.

Anyone else think the Philippinians are bummed they threw us out of Subic Bay?

By: Brant

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