Manila, Sep 27 (EFE).- The Philippine Navy announced Wednesday it will hold annual military drills with the United States next week as tensions with China rise due to territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
US Navy ships USS Guardian (L) and USS Avenger (R) are docked for a port visit at the Puerto Princesa City port in Palawan province, western Philippines, 27 June 2011. EPA-EFE FILE/JASPER CAMACHO
The exercises will take place in the Navy’s area of operation south of the island of Luzon (where the capital, Manila, is located) during Oct. 2-13 “to further strengthen international defense cooperation and advance a rules-based international order,” the Navy said in a statement.
The exercises are “designed to further enhance the PN (Philippine Navy)’s naval warfare capabilities as the country’s offshore combat force for maritime security operations,” and will include anti-submarine, anti-surface, anti-air and electronic warfare.
In addition to the US and the Philippines, the navies of Japan, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Australia will participate in maritime integration and combined interoperability training, while New Zealand and Indonesia will send observers.
Military exercises between the US and the Philippines are a common practice, framed within the mutual defense treaty that the countries signed in 1951.
However, this edition takes place after months of intensification in defense diplomacy between the US and the Philippines following the appointment of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. last year, and amid a recent escalation of tensions with China over territorial disputes.
China warned the Philippines on Tuesday not to “stir up trouble” after the archipelago’s Coast Guard announced that it had removed a floating barrier that Manila accused Beijing of installing in its territorial waters of the South China Sea.
This is the latest episode in the tug-of-war between Beijing and Manila over territory in these waters, including the Scarborough Shoal, which China occupied in 2012 and which the Philippines claims is within its exclusive economic zone.
China claims territorial rights over almost the entire South China Sea, including the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos, a claim that overlaps with the 200-mile exclusive economic zones recognized under international law by countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia.
In 2016 the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague sided with Manila in its complaint against the territorial claims of the Chinese authorities, a ruling that the Asian power has refused to abide by. EFE