US and Philippine color guards at the opening ceremony of the Balikatan 2014 exercise on May. 5. (Photo/Exercise Balikatan)With China increasingly assertive concerning its territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea, the United States and the Philippines launched Exercise Balikatan 2014 on May 5, according to the GMA Network based in Manila. The exercise will continue until May 16. Albert del Rosario, the Philippines’ foreign minister, said on May 5 that Manila and Washington need to work together to confront a neighboring state with the ambition to change the status quo in the South China Sea, a reference to an unnamed China that no one will have missed. About 3,000 Philippine soldiers and 2,500 American troops are taking part in the drill. Hua Chunying, spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, rejected at a press conference on May 5 the claim that Beijing has ambitions to project its power into Southeast Asia. She told the state-run China News Service that China is keen to work with both the United States and the Philippines to maintain regional stability. More