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FILE PHOTO - A Philippine flag flutters from BRP Sierra Madre, a dilapidated Philippine Navy ship that has been aground since 1999 and became a Philippine military detachment on the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea March 29, 2014.

REUTERS/Erik De Castro/File Photo

Can the US and Philippines get Beijing to back off?

On Monday, 3,500 US and Filipino troops began what could become their largest-ever annual training exercises on the Philippine island of Luzon. This came a day after major multilateral naval drills in the South China Sea and just ahead of a trilateral US-Philippines-Japan summit in Washington on Thursday.

The message to China? Take the US-Philippines alliance seriously.

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