ULUGAN BAY, Philippines - Thousands of American and Philippine troops waded ashore on Wednesday in a mock assault to retake a small island near disputed areas in the South China Sea, an exercise expected to raise tension with rival claimant China.
Last week, China's military warned the United States that US-Philippine military exercises have raised risks of armed confrontation over contested waters in the South China Sea, the toughest high-level warning yet after weeks of tension.
The United States and the Philippines launched two weeks of annual war games on the western island of Palawan amid the standoff near Scarborough Shoal in another part of the South China Sea, west of a former US navy base at Subic Bay.
"Never was China ever mentioned in our planning and execution," Lieutenant General Juancho Sabban, commander of military forces in the western Philippines, told reporters.
The military drill "simply means we want to work together, improve our skills", he said.