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US to ramp up military presence in Philippines amid regional tension

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has announced the US will send more troops and military equipment to the Philippines. The move comes amid growing tension over China's assertiveness in the region.

During a visit to Manila, United States Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said on Thursday that the country would send additional troops and military equipment to the Philippines. The announcement came the same day the US military said it was conducting joint exercises with the Southeast Asian island nation in the South China Sea, which has become a flashpoint over the years due to growing tensions between China and its regional neighbors.

According to the defense secretary, Washington will send regular rotations of soldiers and equipment to the Philippines until the end of the month. The purpose is to avoid expanding the country's permanent military footprint on the island nation while also sending the signal that Washington remains committed to ensuring the security of its former colony.

Nearly 300 troops will remain in the Philippines until the end of the month, where they are to assist with training and joint exercises. About 200 airmen will be based at Clark Air Base, and as many as 75 Marines will be at Camp Aguinaldo.

Scarborough-Riff im Südchinesischen Meer

The Scarborough Shoal is a source of tension between China and the Philippines

Joint exercises

American ships have already begun conducting joint exercises with their Filipino counterparts. The first joint patrol of the South China Sea occurred in March and another patrol took place earlier this month.

A Filipino diplomat had requested that Washington take action to dissuade China from building in the Scarborough Shoal, an area in the South China Sea and the source of a territorial dispute between China, the Philippines and Taiwan. The Scarborough Shoal is a major source of fish.

The US decision to increase military efforts in the region also came days after

the Group of 7 (G7) nations met in Hiroshima

, where they condemned "intimidating, coercive or provocative unilateral actions" by countries in the region, in what was largely interpreted as a signal to China. Beijing promptly

slammed the group

, saying it should concentrate on economic matters instead.

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