The US and Vietnam launched a series of non-combative training exercises on Friday, a sign of deepening military ties as China’s stance grows more assertive in the South China Sea, the Wall Street Journal reported. The exchanges are part of a broader push by the US to deepen military ties across Asia that has included expanding training to Cambodia and Malaysia and deploying littoral combat ships in Singapore. However, they fall short of the advanced military exercises that occur between the US and its longer-term allies in the region, like the Philippines and Australia. While US officials stressed that the week of Vietnam exchanges had been planned for months, the exercises risk further straining relations with China. Tensions have risen in recent weeks between China and the other Southeast Asian countries that lay claim to territory in the potentially oil-rich South China Sea, including Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia. Vietnam accused China of interfering with one of its oil-exploration boats in June.