The United States and the Philippines conduct large-scale military exercises near Taiwan

The Philippines and the United States began their largest joint military exercises in the Southeast Asian country on Tuesday (April 11th) as longtime allies seek to counter China's growing influence in the country

The United States and the Philippines conduct large-scale military exercises near Taiwan

The Philippines and the United States began their largest joint military exercises in the Southeast Asian country on Tuesday (April 11th) as longtime allies seek to counter China's growing influence in the country. the region.

The joint maneuvers, dubbed "Balikatan" ("side by side" in Filipino), come as China completed a three-day drill around Taiwan, simulating an exercise encircling the island. The Chinese authorities announced on Monday that they would conduct new exercises until April 20.

Rising tensions around Taiwan, an island that Beijing considers part of China, and the construction of new bases in the South China Sea have strengthened the partnership between Washington and Manila, placed under the aegis of a defense treaty mutual.

Nearly 18,000 soldiers mobilized

These maneuvers, which take place every year, mobilize 12,200 American soldiers, 5,400 Filipino soldiers and just over a hundred Australian soldiers, twice as many men as in 2022. For the first time, they will include bullet attacks real and will last two weeks. One of the exercises calls for the landing of military helicopters on the island of Calayan, located nearly 300 kilometers south of Taiwan.

These exercises will improve "tactics, techniques and procedures" regarding a wide range of military operations, said Colonel Medel Aguilar, spokesman for the Philippine military. "Through this exercise, the Philippine and U.S. forces will strengthen our interoperability, increase our skills and complement our capabilities through collaboration," added U.S. Marine 1st Air Unit General Eric Austin during the opening ceremony. Tuesday in Manila.

This is the first time that these exercises have taken place under the mandate of the Philippine President, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., in power since June 2022. The latter seeks to improve relations with Washington, damaged by his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte, who s was shown to be more conciliatory towards Beijing.