The US and Philippines have commenced their biggest-ever joint military exercise to protect the South China Sea. The exercise, which involves nearly 11,000 troops, is aimed at improving the military capabilities of both countries and strengthening their alliance. The move comes amid rising tensions in the region, with China asserting its territorial claims in the disputed waters. The exercise will last for two weeks and include simulated amphibious assaults and live-fire drills. The US has been increasing its military presence in the region to counter China’s growing influence, much to Beijing’s displeasure.