US, Philippine troops hold joint training for maritime security
MANILA — Nearly 4,000 US and Philippine troops on Monday began a 10-day joint training exercise to enhance maritime security amid territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
The exercise would be held in various parts of the Philippines, including the provinces of Zambales and Palawan which are near disputed territories in the South China Sea where tensions have flared in recent months.
“Today, our nations stand together in a partnership to make the Pacific region more secure and prosperous,” US deputy chief of mission Brian Goldbeck said at the opening ceremony.
Goldbeck said he expected the training to “make our nations stronger and more capable in functioning as one team against any challenge.”
About 2,600 US forces and 1,200 Filipino troops were participating in the training that includes table-top exercises, field activities and amphibious operations until October 18.
Manila has been locked in a diplomatic row with Beijing over the presence of Chinese government ships at a shoal within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone.
China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, which straddles key shipping lanes in the region and is believed to be rich in resources. The Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims in the sea.