Afghan Voice Agency (AVA): International media have reported that the US-Philippines joint exercise started yesterday, Tuesday, April 11, around Chinese waters.
The annual maneuvers of the United States and the Philippines known as "Balikatan" meaning "shoulder to shoulder" will continue until April 28 and include more than 17,600 military personnel.
At the same time as the US President Joe Biden's administration is trying to strengthen alliances and coalitions in order to better deal with China, including in a possible confrontation over Taiwan, this will be the biggest show of US military power in Asia.
This event is in line with the efforts of the Philippines under President Ferdinand Marcos to defend its territorial interests in the South China Sea, which China de facto claims, by intensifying joint military exercises with the US and allowing the deployment of US rotational forces in surplus military camps. The Philippines is under the 2014 Defense Treaty.
General Eric Austin of the US Marines said: The relationship we have and the joint maneuvers we hold allow us to respond more quickly to conflicts, crises, humanitarian aid and rescue operations.
About 12,200 US military personnel, 5,400 Filipino troops and 111 Australian troops are participating in these exercises; An exercise that is considered the biggest maneuver since the beginning of Balikatan maneuvers three decades ago.
During the live-fire exercise that the allies will hold for the first time on April 26, American and Philippine forces will sink a large ship in Philippine territorial waters near Zambales province through a coordinated inland and coastal artillery bombardment and airstrikes.
Philippine military officials have said that these maneuvers are aimed at strengthening the country's coastal defense capabilities and response to natural disasters, and have not targeted any country.
The US Embassy in Manila stated: Such scenarios will test the abilities of the allies in shooting live bullets, sharing information, communication between maneuver units, logistics operations and amphibious operations.
Philippine officials also announced that as a sign of deepening defense cooperation, the foreign and defense ministers of the Philippines will meet with their American counterparts in Washington today and discuss the US military presence and joint maritime patrols.
The Balikatan maneuvers in the Philippines began a day after China ended its three-day military exercise around Taiwan. These Chinese maneuvers were held following the meeting between the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, and the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, in California. A meeting that angered Beijing.
China considers Taiwan a part of its territory. Chinese authorities have repeatedly said that they will use any means, even military attack, to return Taiwan to mainland China.