US and Philippine Marines launched a faux-assault on a small island in disputed waters today, ignoring China's warnings that doing so would raise the risk of armed conflict. China and the Philippine vessels are in the midst of a standoff in another part of the energy-rich and much-contested South China Sea, over reports that Philippine ships had accosted Chinese fisherman, Reuters explains.
"Some people tried to mix two unrelated things, territorial sovereignty and freedom of navigation," one Chinese official said. But US officials insist the location of the drill is "irrelevant." US and Philippine troops drill every year. "This year it happens to be in Palawan," one ensign said. "The planning for this took place months ago, prior to any events that are currently in the headlines." (Read more Philippines stories.)