No US-PH war games during Chinese leader's visit, US embassy says

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 11 2018 12:33 AM

MANILA - There are no planned military exercises between the United States and the Philippines in November, a US Embassy in Manila spokesperson said on Wednesday.

This, after China expressed concern over the US' alleged plan to hold naval exercises in the disputed South China Sea, which will supposedly coincide with the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Philippines next month.

"There are no major US-Philippine military exercises planned for November. The U.S. and the Philippines enjoy ongoing, close cooperation in areas central to our national and security interests, including counter-terrorism, maritime security, cyber security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and many others," US Embassy Press Attache Molly Koscina said in a statement.

Koscina also said security cooperation activities between Washington and Manila are planned for 2019.

"Every year our two countries engage in a significant number of security cooperation activities that underscore the US-Philippine relationship as friends, partners, and allies. In September, during the annual Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board, the US and the Philippines agreed on 281 security cooperation activities for 2019, up almost 10% from this year," Koscina added.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua expressed concern to President Rodrigo Duterte regarding US-Philippine war games during a courtesy call at the Palace on Monday afternoon.

Xi is set to visit the Philippines after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Papua New Guinea next month. 

The US is not a claimant state to the South China Sea, but it considers the vital sealane as international waters where freedom of navigation and overflight must be recognized and respected. 

The US regularly conducts freedom of navigation and overflight operations in the disputed waters, earning the ire of Beijing which regards almost the entire sea as its own.