U.S.-Philippine Military Drills Signal Strategic Shift in Manila

Some 3,000 U.S. and Filipino marines have begun two weeks of joint training drills, including a hostile beach-assault exercise near the Spratly Islands -- a patchwork of islets and atolls at the center of maritime territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

While U.S. military officials assert the drills are not aimed at China or any other country as a specific target, Marvin Ott, an Asia expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, says they represent an obvious strategic move by Washington to counter growing Chinese efforts to claim sovereignty and exert dominance over the South China Sea.

"This exercise is a tangible and logical early expression of what will I think be an emerging posture of U.S. deterrence in the South China Sea, meaning deterrence vis-à-vis the Chinese military," Ott told Trend Lines on Tuesday.

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