China joins disaster talks in US-Philippine drills

MANILA, Philippines (AP) - Two Chinese military officers have for the first time joined a closed-door discussion on disaster response which is part of major annual US-Philippine military exercises that Beijing has protested against in the past.

Philippine Brigadier General Aurelio Baladad says the inclusion of military officers from the United States and China along with nine other countries in Monday's talks on responding to sea disasters shows that major powers sometimes seen as rivals can work together on humanitarian goals.

The day-long discussions, held at the Philippine military headquarters in Manila, were part of the Balikatan military drills involving about 8,000 US and Filipino troops from April 5 to 17. In the past, US-Philippine military exercises involved combat manoeuvres near contested South China Sea territories that have prompted protests from Beijing.