US‚ Philippines start naval drills
Added At: 2012-04-16 10:53 PM
Last Updated At: 2012-04-16 10:53 PM
MANILA: American and Filipino troops launched two weeks of annual naval drills today amid a territorial standoff between China and the Philippines as the United States seeks to reinforce its influence across the Asia-Pacific.
The most recent dispute between China and the Philippines entered its second week, with a Philippine coast guard ship and two Chinese maritime surveillance vessels faced off near the Scarborough shoal, west of a former United States navy base at Subic Bay, once the biggest outside the United States.
Chinese fishermen refused Manila's request to hand over their haul, highlighting Manila's powerlessness to confront its giant neighbour and its need to keep its main ally, the United States, sweet.
China has territorial disputes with several countries in the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas.
China has sought to resolve the disputes one-on-one but there is concern among its neighbours over what some see as its growing assertiveness in staking its claims over the sea and various islands, reefs and shoals.
Philippine officials hope the war games, in which nearly 7,000 American and Filipino troops will simulate assaults for the first time in an area near the South China Sea, will become more frequent.