WASHINGTON — The Phillippines and the U.S. are participating in joint war games this week, signifying the new security pact that the two longtime allies signed in the wake of increasingly aggressive action by China.
Reuters reported that the joint exercises, called “Balikatan” (or “shoulder-to-shoulder), tests the combat readiness of the allied forces. This training was to help ensure that they were ready for any sea-type responses, such as piracy, humanitarian aid or disaster responses.
This is a part of U.S. President Barack Obama’s “pivot” to Asia, which included more commitment to U.S. ally Australia.
The Phillippines has seen Chinese forces encroach on territories claimed by the island nation, as well as territories claimed by other Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei and even Japan. The South China Sea region is home to energy-rich deposits on scattered island chains, some of which are uninhabitable.
Currently, Chinese coast guard ships have blockaded the disputed Second Thomas Shoal in the region.