July 23, 2024

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The Philippines and the United States are conducting their largest military operation

A day after China wrapped up extensive military manoeuvres near Taiwan, the United States and the Philippines are conducting their largest-ever combined military operations.

In retaliation for Taiwan’s leader meeting the US House Speaker last week, China’s military practised blocking the island over the course of three days.

While Taiwan President Tsai called China’s show of firepower “irresponsible” and asserted her right to travel to the US, Washington blasted China’s show as being out of proportion. The US drills were anticipated in advance.

Officials from the Philippines and the US claim the exercises demonstrate their commitment to an open and free Indo-Pacific region and peace and stability. More than 17,000 forces, including 12,000 from the US, will participate in this year’s Balikatan exercise with the Philippines, according to a Washington announcement made last month.

Additionally, as part of the two-week Balikatan exercise, the military will practise detonating a pretend target cruiser in the South China Sea, a move that could anger China.

However, according to US and Filipino military officials, the exercises shouldn’t be seen as a reaction to events in Taiwan.

Some of the most important trade routes in the world’s waterways may be found in the South China Sea and the waters surrounding the Philippines, which have recently been the focus of China’s contested territorial claims.

The Spratly Islands are in the restricted economic area of the Philippines but are claimed by Beijing; the US dispatched the “USS Milius” past them.

China issued a similar caution to the Philippines and the US on Monday, saying that military cooperation between the two countries should not get in the way of maritime disputes.

In recent years, the Balikatan drills’ emphasis has changed to reflect a change in the region’s geo-security concerns. After al-Qaeda-affiliated extremists carried out bomb strikes in the southern Philippines in the 2000s, it focused on counterterrorism exercises.

But a broader response has been sparked by China’s quick military buildup and territorial claims in the contested South China Sea, particularly on a number of islands claimed by the Philippines.

In terms of regional security, the Philippines’ position has expanded. There is a widespread belief that greater US access to Philippine bases might serve as launch pads for military operations in instances of armed conflicts over flashpoints like Taiwan or the South China Sea.

The Philippine President, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., said on Monday that the US would not have access to “military facilities for aggressive actions.”