Philippines, U.S. hold biggest-ever drills to counter China

  • The Philippines and the U.S. on 11 Apr launched their largest-ever joint military drills, stepping up their defence alliance amid an increasingly assertive China.
  • In a show of force, 17,600 troops from both countries are taking part in a series of war games until April 28 to enhance their interoperability in areas such as live-fire drills and maritime security.
  • The 38th annual Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) exercises take place as the U.S. ramps up its military presence in the Philippines, which last week announced four new bases that the U.S. can access.
  • The new sites face Taiwan and the disputed South China Sea, two geopolitical flashpoints that loom large in the U.S.-China regional rivalry.
  • The start of the drills comes one day after China concluded three days of military exercises around Taiwan, simulating precision strikes on the island.
  • Up from 9,000 total participants in 2022, 12,200 American and 5,400 Philippine military personnel are participating in 2023’s drills, practicing maritime security, amphibious operations, live-fire training, urban and aviation operations, cyber defence, counterterrorism and humanitarian assistance.

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