Manila — The US and Philippine militaries launched major exercises on Monday aimed at fighting global terrorism, while staying mostly quiet on Beijing’s reported installation of missiles in the disputed South China Sea. The annual manoeuvres are the second to be held under Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who has set aside long-simmering friction over competing claims to the waters, in order to court Chinese trade and investment. The 12-day exercises began less than a week after US network CNBC reported that the Chinese military had, over the past month, installed anti-ship and air-to-air defences on islands also claimed by the Philippines. "This exercise was scheduled, whether those missiles were there or not," US Lt-Gen Lawrence Nicholson told reporters in Manila. "The exercises really have very little to do with recent developments in the area," said Nicholson, the US director of the "Balikatan" (shoulder-to-shoulder) manoeuvres. The South China Sea issue has been brewing f...

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