Philippines to end US war games over China tension
THE Philippines will soon end its long-running history of conducting joint military exercises with the United States, one reason being that China sees itself as the target of some of the war games, President Rodrigo Duterte vowed on Wednesday night.
According to what Mr Duterte told the Filipino community in Hanoi as he kicked off his two-day visit to Vietnam, the Philippine-US Amphibious Landing Exercises (Philbex), to be held next week, would be the last joint drills between the two countries, the Inquirer Net web site reported.
He added that he wants to establish new trade and commercial alliances with China and Russia, and that some war games with the US had raised China's hackles.
The 33rd Philbex are set to take place from Oct 4 to Oct 12 in the Philippines, which follows the larger annual Balikatan exercises in April, the 32nd since 1981, involving more than 8,000 forces from both sides.
The two countries had previously staged manoeuvres near the Spratly islands and Scarborough Shoal, where China and the Philippines have territorial disputes.
Perfecto Yasay, the Philippine foreign secretary, was quick to qualify the president's words, saying the US-Philippine exercises agreed upon by the previous administration will continue until next year.
The two sides will also review whether there could be joint exercises beyond 2017, he added.
But he affirmed there would no longer be joint patrols by the Philippine and US forces in the South China Sea as Manila does not want to further increase tensions with China.