The United States and the Philippines are making a move to beef up military cooperation in light of South China Sea tensions and China does not like it. As the US-Philippine war games begin, Australia joining in, China is warning outsiders not to interfere with the territorial disputes in the region. Will WW3 ensue?
Ongoing South China Sea tensions have prompted the intervention of the United States in the region. Moreover, Washington is providing military cooperation with other claimants to the disputed region such as the Philippines. Despite warnings from China, the US and the Philippine have started their annual war games this Monday. The military exercises will span 11 days as a way to show force against Beijing’s aggression.
According to The Diplomat, around 8,000 personnel from the US and the Philippines will participate in the war games dubbed as the Balikatan exercises. The war games will push through from April 4 to April 15. Australia has sent troops to participate in the exercises. Specifically, Australia has deployed 86 military personnel along with 30 commandos from the 2nd Commando Regiment to the said war games. Additionally, the RAAF AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and its crew will also participate in the exercises, according to Sydney Morning Herald. Commander of the Australian contingent, Wing Commander Bill Talbot, said that Australia’s participation is affirmation of Canberra’s “friendship with and support to the Philippines while maintaining good interoperability with US forces assigned to US Pacific Command.” Other nations, on the other hand, sent their observers.
The Balikatan drills will cover a variety of activities such as simulation supported events, humanitarian civil assistance projects and operation events. Furthermore, the simulation will also include island reclamation from the claim of an unspecified country in the South China Sea, joint rapid reaction force and amphibious landing.
On top of the thousands of troops to join the exercise, the drills will also involve 55 US aircraft operating with some of Manila’s fighter jets. Moreover, Sputnik reported that as opposed to previous years, the annual Balikatan this time will also delve on the delivery of an anti-aircraft gun called the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). The Philippines acquired the system from Washington and has set to be positioned on westernmost island of Palawan in the Philippines.
“Looking at the features of Balikatan – the mobile missile-launchers, the fighter planes – that is an indication that the alliance is being geared for territorial defense,” Defense News quoted Rene de Castro, an international studies professor at the De La Salle University (via Sputnik).
China’s state media has issued a warning to “outsiders” over such interventions. The warning came following news of the 11-day Balikatan exercises.
“The … exercises caps Manila’s recent attempts to involve outsiders in (a) regional row,” said China’s official news agency Xinhua in a commentary via Defense News.
“However, a provocation so fear-mongering and untimely as such is likely to boomerang on the initiators,” added Xinhua.
“A big country with vital interests in Asia, the United States should first clarify the targets of its Pivot to Asia strategy, which so far has featured no more than unscrupulous inconsistency between fear-mongering deeds and peace-loving words.”
The situation in the South China Sea has been consistently described by political analysts as something that could spark the already impending WW3 between the United States and its allies against China. Beijing has always been identified as top threat against world stability by Pentagon officials. What could make matter worse is that Russia, another world power in terms of military might, is reportedly also eyeing to built bases in the disputed region as an ally to China.