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US, Philippines launch joint South China Sea patrols

US Navy personnel raise their flag during a bilateral maritime exercise with the Philippine Navy in the South China Sea in 2014The US said Thursday it has launched joint South China Sea naval patrols with the Philippines, escalating its presence as it accused Beijing of “militarising” a region which is locked in territorial disputes. In a show of strength, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter also announced that 275 troops and five A-10 ground attack aircraft currently in the country for annual war games will remain in the country temporarily. China warned deployments must not damage “regional stability”, but Carter said Washington’s efforts to strengthen its military role in the region was not done “in order to provoke”.

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