Manila ( AsiaNews
/ Agencies) - Manila and Washington today begin a series of joint naval
exercises (so-called "War Games ") in the South China Sea , an area
at the center The aim of the operation - which is expected to last at least
three weeks - is to "strengthen" military ties between the Philippines and
the United States. Doubtlessly this will
lead to more tensions with China which, for now, has not officially responded to
the joint exercises. The
risk is that the war games could hasten open conflict in the Asia- Pacific
region, considered the economic and commercial resources (the area is rich in
oil and natural gas ) it offers.
The joint annual exercises - Philippine -US Amphibious Landing Exercises ( Philbex ) - set sail from the naval base in Zambales on the west coast of the island of Luzon , facing the South China Sea and involving 2,300 marines on both sides . The area is located about 220 km from the Scarborough Shoal, a group of atolls that falls within the area of jurisdiction of the Philippines and which in the recent past China occupied with its boats and equipment.
During the "war" operations two warships will be used and bullets and rockets will be fired. Meanwhile negotiations that should lead to increased U.S. military presence in the former colony and a strengthening of the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force capabilities are nearing conclusion . In three weeks an official visit of U.S. President Barack Obama to Manila is also scheduled to take place, a highly anticipated event by the Philippine government that seeks to strengthen the alliance with Washington in an anti - Chinese pact.
Among Asia-Pacific nations, China has the largest territorial claims in the South China Sea, including the Spratly and Paracel Islands, which have no permanent population but are resource rich. Regional hegemony would be strategically important for Beijing because it would enable it to control the region's trade and natural resources, such as oil and natural gas. Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have challenged China's expansionist aims. As well as the United States who are moving behind the scenes to counter the imperialism of Beijing in a strategic area of control for two-thirds of the world's maritime trade.