The Armies of Philippines and USA They sank this Wednesday a disused ship in the south china sea as part of their joint military exercisesclose to a coral reef that China invaded in 2012 in Philippine territorial waters, in a move intended to discourage Beijing from being aggressive in these disputed waters, according to experts.
“About 1,400 marines, soldiers, and coast guards from both countries participated in the maneuver, which consisted of detecting, identifying, targeting, and attacking a ship using various land and air weapons systems.”, published the US and Philippine armies in a statement.
In the Philippine territorial defense drill, the largest annual joint military exercises between Washington and Manila since they began 38 years ago, both Armies fired HIMARS missiles to sink abandoned Philippine military shipin addition to using the Avenger air defense systemhelicopters and combat fighters.
The maneuver was carried out in waters of the province of Zambales -northwest of the Philippine archipelago-, near Bajo de Masinloc, a reef that the Chinese regime invaded in 2012 in the South China Sea and has since intensified the territorial conflict that Beijing and Manila maintain for the sovereignty of a handful of islets and reefs in these waters.
The atoll is located some 119 nautical miles from the northwestern Philippine coast, within the 200-mile limit that the UN established to determine the States’ maritime sovereigntyaccording to a convention China acceded to in 1996.
However, Xi Jinping’s regime claims for “historical reasons” almost the entirety of the South China Seacreating a sovereign dispute with the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and other countries in the region.
“The training represented a tangible demonstration of the commitment of both countries to strengthen military capabilities and interoperability to face the current common security challenges”, the Armies added in the statement, in a clear dissuasive message addressed to China, according to the experts.
The President of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos Jr.., attended the exercise in a rare appearance in this type of joint rehearsals, which does not usually include the presence of the Philippine head of state.
The military maneuvers between the Philippines and the US on Philippine soil come at a time of growing tensions between Manila and Beijing: on the one hand, the territorial conflict between the two countries in the South China Sea has worsened, following recent allegations by the Philippines of the use of military lasers from Chinese ships against its coast guards.
For another, Beijing is strongly opposed to the new military agreement between the US and the Philippines, announced on April 3 and through which US troops will have access to four new bases on Philippine soil: one of them some 400 kilometers from Taiwan, a self-governing island that the Chinese regime has not ruled out invading and that Washington would in principle defend, and another close to the disputed islands in the Spratly archipelago.
China has considered the agreement a “provocation”, and the Chinese ambassador in Manila, Huang Xilianraised the tension last Friday, April 14, suggesting that the Philippines “should be concerned about the safety” of the more than 150,000 Filipinos living in Taiwan.
(With information from EFE)
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