09/18/2013, 00.00
PHILIPPINES - U.S. - CHINA
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South China Sea, Manila and Washington play at war, against Beijing

For three weeks, the U.S. and Philippine navy ships will carry out military exercises in the area, at the center of a bitter territorial dispute . 2,300 Marines involved. The goal is to strengthen military ties in an anti – Chinese pact. Anticipation for visit of U.S. President Barack Obama.

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.

 

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