MANILLA, Philippines - A stand-off between China and the Philippines over territories rich in oil is threatening international relations.
Late last month, thousands of American and Philippine troops took part in a mock assault to retake a small island in the South China Sea.
The games coincided with a tense battle between China and the Philippines over contested areas in the South China Sea, mainly, the Scarborough Shoal.
The Shoal is a group of half submerged rock formations believed to be rich in natural resources, along with prime fishing ground.
Philippines leaders say the Shoal belongs to them because it falls well within the country's 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone and is recognized by international law. In Manila, Philippine Coast Guards ships are now being sent out to patrol the disputed areas.
Both the Philippines and China want to lay claim to the area. But, the recent U.S.-Philippine war games have China on edge.
China warned the games could escalate tensions. Yet, Philippine government officials say they're not looking for a fight but must defend what is rightly theirs.
"That's our exclusive economic zone, why should we withdraw?" Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario charged.
Christian leaders warn the dispute should not be taken lightly.
"We will like to claim what God has given us. God has a plan for nations. Our weapon here, I see, will be prayer and fasting. We just have to pray," Pastor Ed De Guzman, with Intercessors for the Philippines, said.
"They have warships," he continued. "This nation can only offer worship to God."
Meanwhile, both nations continue to keep ships in the region to assert their sovereignty.
"China wants to establish the rules. What does that mean to all the nations who are interested to gain back freedom of navigation and unimpeded commerce in the South China Sea?" del Rosario asked.
"Obviously, there's a negative implication for everyone, not just the Philippines," he said.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai has said China is "certainly worried" about the situation and remains committed to dialogue to resolve the region's disputes.