US Bolstering Philippines Amid Increasing Assertiveness by China

Voice of America News reports: “The U.S. and Philippines will for the first time venture outside Manila’s territorial waters when they begin joint annual combat drills in April, a Philippines government spokesman said Thursday.

Colonel Michael Logico said elements of the Balikatan 2024 drills would be conducted about 22 kilometers (more than 12 nautical miles) off the west coast of Palawan, an island in the archipelago nation that faces a troubled region of the South China Sea.

Chinese ships this month blocked Philippine ships near the Second Thomas Shoal, a reef about 200 kilometers (120 miles) off Palawan that both sides claim.

‘The message that we want to send is that we are serious about defending our territory and we have allies,’ Logico said at a news conference, according to Philippine media.

Beijing claims most of the South China Sea as its own, putting it in conflict with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, all of which border the sea. An international tribunal at The Hague has rejected China’s claim…”

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