The USS Ronald Reagan a nuclear-powered supercarrier led a military drill in the Philippine Sea where tensions between US-allied and China have been heating up due to competition for trade routes, military bases, and contested islands.
The military took place in the Philippine Sea which is located East of Taiwan and separated from the South China Sea by the Philippines itself on the 31st May.
The US military said in a statement that the drill was carried out to show support for its allies in the Indo-Pacific region and to demonstrate the combat-readiness of its fleet in the region.
The drill led by the 332 metre (1,092 foot) long state-of-the art carrier which can carry up to 90 fixed-wing aircraft comes amid rising tensions in the region between China and the US allies.
Cirilito Elola Sobejana, Filipino Lieutenant General, in a statement commended Philippine soldiers for the role they play in protecting Philippine interests in the South China Sea.
Sobejana was speaking just as the Philippine military criticised the Chinese navy for incursions into their territories.
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs lodged a diplomatic complaint against China at the end of May after its fishing vessels encroached on the Pag-asa islands.
Pag-asa islands are located in the West Philippine Sea and held under Manila’s jurisdiction, and the Philippine government considers the Chinese presence in its waters as a violation of sovereignty.
Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, has reacted to the increasing presence of the Chinese military in the region by calling for an expansion of Philippine navy patrols.
The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) reports that over the last 10 months it has recorded a significant increase in military patrols in the region.
It added that Filipino military activity has reached a level “beyond anything seen in recent history.”
The United States has positioned itself firmly in support of the Philippines in the region.
Heather Fabrikant, a US embassy spokesperson, said: “The [People’s Republic of China] uses maritime militia to intimidate, provoke, and threaten other nations, which undermines peace and security in the region.”
She added: “We stand with the Philippines, our oldest treaty ally in Asia.”
The Chinese embassy responded to the accusations stating: “Within our region tensions are rising because some external countries are bent on playing geopolitical games.”
The increasing tensions come as President Biden heads to the UK for the G7 summit which starts tomorrow (11th June) and is expected to revolve heavily around the three ‘C’s Covid, the Climate and China.