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The Philippines and its allies begin naval exercises amid China tensions

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Forces from Manila, Britain, Canada, Japan, and the United States have commenced a two-week joint naval exercise in Philippine waters. The purpose of these exercises is to demonstrate a “show of force” in response to regional tensions that have been escalating recently. The drills, named “Sama Sama,” involve more than 1,800 participants and are taking place in the southern part of the island of Luzon.

The Philippine navy has stated that the exercises will focus on areas such as anti-submarine warfare, air defense, and search and rescue operations. Rear Admiral Toribio Adaci, the Philippine navy chief, emphasized that these exercises go beyond mere military training and serve as a symbol of enduring partnerships and shared commitment to security and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Vice Admiral Karl Thomas, the commander of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, highlighted the importance of upholding the right of all nations to sail and operate freely in the West Philippine Sea without coercion or intimidation. The reference to the West Philippine Sea specifically points to Manila’s claim in the contested South China Sea.

The joint naval exercises involve five vessels, including two from the United States, and one each from Britain, Canada, and Japan. Australia, France, Indonesia, and New Zealand have also sent observers and experts to participate in the drills.

Admiral Karl Thomas expressed confidence in the unified strength of the participating nations, emphasizing that this joint effort sends a clear message to potential aggressors. The goal is to project unity and ensure the safeguarding of maritime interests in the region.

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