The US military began a two-week multilateral exercise with its Filipino allies and multiple international partners on Monday amid escalating tensions between Manila and Beijing over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
The SAMA 2023 Maritime Training Activity is the seventh and largest iteration of the exercise with participants from Australia, Canada, France, Japan, the United Kingdom and Malaysia joining the United States and the Philippines, according to a US Navy press release.
The statement said that the exercises off the Philippine coast will include exercises in anti-submarine warfare, surface and air warfare, in addition to the land phases.
“‘Sama Sama’ in Tagalog means ‘together’ and there could be no better phrase to express the spirit of this exercise,” Capt. Sean Lewis, commodore of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Destroyer Squadron, said in the release. .
“Together we can address a wide range of security threats and enhance interoperability, and with more countries participating than ever before, we can increase innovation and build a ready, unified force that ensures stability in the region,” he said.
Stability in the region is seen as increasingly threatened by confrontations between the Chinese Coast Guard and the Chinese Armed Forces Naval militia Philippine units and ships around disputed features in the South China Sea.
From territorial defense to combating transnational crimes, Samasama [helps] “We have to face a range of threats together,” Philippine Navy Commander Vice Adm. Toribio Adachi Jr. said at the opening ceremony in Manila on Monday, according to the state-run Philippine News Agency.
The US Navy, US Marine Corps and Armed Forces of the Philippines joined partners to begin the seventh edition of Exercise Sama Sama in Manila on October 2.
in Exclusive interview with CNN Last week, Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. likened Chinese behavior in the region to that of a schoolyard bully.
Recent events that have brought the region to the brink include: Chinese water cannons are blocked Resupplying a sunken Philippine military position and a lone Filipino diver Penetrating a Chinese floating barrier. Earlier this year, the Philippine Coast Guard accused a Chinese Coast Guard vessel of involvement in violence Pointing to the “military” laser. on some of its crew members, temporarily blinding them.
“I can’t think of any clearer case of bullying than this,” Teodoro said. “It’s not a matter of stealing your lunch money, it’s really a matter of stealing your lunch bag, your seat, even your school admission.”
03:26- Source: CNN
The Philippine President pledges to defend his lands and says, “He is not looking for problems.”
Beijing says it is Manila that is stirring up tensions.
“The current maritime conflicts between China and the Philippines are mainly caused by the Philippine side constantly stirring up trouble and spreading false information,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry told CNN.
China says Philippine ships are intruding on its territory in the Spratly island chain, despite a 2016 international court ruling rejecting Beijing’s claim.
China claims “indisputable sovereignty” over nearly 1.3 million square miles of the South China Sea, and most of the islands and sandbars within it, including many landmarks hundreds of miles from mainland China. Besides the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan also have competing claims.
SAMA includes more than 1,800 personnel from participating countries, many of them aboard warships from the Philippines, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and Canada. The maneuvers will be held in the Philippine Navy’s Southern Luzon region, where the headquarters is located on the country’s Pacific coast, about 300 miles (480 kilometers) southeast of Manila and about 560 miles (900 kilometers) from the Spratly Islands, according to the PNA. .
Sama Sama show continues until October 13th.
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