South China Sea issue: Philippines, US to start two-week joint military drills
Manila: The Philippine armed forces will hold joint exercises with hundreds of US soldiers over the next two weeks amid a conflict with China over the South China Sea issue, media reports said.
The annual war games between the military allies was cancelled last year due to COVID-19.
This year’s “Balikatan” (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) drills to test the readiness of their militaries to respond to threats such natural disasters and militant extremist attacks will be scaled down, Philippine military chief Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana told South China Morning Post.
About 700 US soldiers and up to 1,300 members of the Philippine military will take part – about a quarter of the usual attendance, Sobejana said.
“The exercise this year is a hybrid of virtual and physical activities,” he said.