San Antonio (Philippines) (AFP) - Scores of US and Filipino marines launched mock assaults on a South China Sea beach in the Philippines Friday, as a row escalates between Beijing and its smaller neighbours over the strategic waters. The drills, part of annual war games between the two countries, came after Vietnam said its vessels were rammed by Chinese ships protecting a deep-sea oil rig in disputed waters off Vietnam's coast. The flare-up -- which saw counter-accusations from Beijing which said its own vessels had been repeatedly attacked -- sparked concern from Japan, the United States, and the European Union about deteriorating security in the region. The US-Philippine exercises -- involving about 5,500 troops -- included Friday's drills on a beach about 220 kilometres (135 miles) from Scarborough Shoal, which China took control of two years ago after a stand-off with the much-weaker Philippine forces.
The United States has condemned \"ugly and disrespectful\" racist comments directed at Barack Obama by North Korea's official KCNA news agency comparing the US president to a black \"monkey\" in a zoo. North Korean propaganda is known for vitriolic personal attacks on foreign leaders, but the KCNA despatch published last Friday -- not long after Obama's visit to South Korea -- stood out for its use of highly inflammatory and abusive racist language. \"The way Obama looks disgusts me,\" said one worker at an ironworks factory. Four people were interviewed in total and all their comments were similar in their racist nature, with one referring to Obama as \"sub-animal.\"
San Antonio (Philippines) (AFP) - Scores of US and Filipino marines launched mock assaults on a South China Sea beach in the Philippines on Friday in war games aimed at honing the allies' combat skills. The exercise came as tensions simmer between the Philippines and China over rival claims to the strategic waters. Three US rubber raiding craft and two small-unit Filipino riverine boats made repeated sallies at a desolate beach at a northern Philippines navy base in a practise stealth landing of squads of armed marines.