American and Philippine troops launched a mock assault on a small island near disputed areas of the South China Sea on Wednesday, an exercise expected to increase friction with China, which claims portions of the sea for its own, Reuters reported. Almost 7,000 US and Philippine troops emerged from ships in simulated amphibious war drills to recapture an island fictionally taken by militants. China’s military warned the US last week that such joint military exercises have increased the risk of armed action over disputed areas of the South China Sea. The US stated that the joint exercises have nothing to do with China. The games have been conducted annually since 1951, when the two countries signed the Mutual Defense Treaty. “Never was China ever mentioned in our planning and executing,” said Lieutenant General Juancho Sabban, commander of military forces in the western Philippines.