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Monday May 27, 2024

US, Japan, Australia and Philippines to hold South China Sea exercises

The four nations have reaffirmed their position that the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Tribunal Award is final and legally binding

By Reuters
April 07, 2024
Philippine coast guard ship Melchora Aquino (eft) and US Coast Guard cutter Midgett maneuver during an exercise in the vicinity of the South China Sea. — AFP/File
Philippine coast guard ship Melchora Aquino (eft) and US Coast Guard cutter Midgett maneuver during an exercise in the vicinity of the South China Sea. — AFP/File

MANILA: Defence forces of the U.S., Japan, Australia and the Philippines will conduct “maritime cooperative activity” on April 7 to support a free and open Indo-Pacific, the countries said on Saturday, amid China’s growing assertiveness in the waterway.

The one-day maritime exercises will involve communication activities and officer of the watch manoeuvres in Manila’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea, Philippines’ defence ministry spokesperson Arsenio Andolong told reporters.

Littoral combat ship USS Mobile, Australian frigate HMAS Warramunga and Japanese destroyer JS Akebono will join two Philippine warships, Andolong said.

“They will go from south going to the north encompassing the boundary of western and northern command,” he said.

The activity will strengthen the interoperability of the countries’ armed forces doctrines, tactics, techniques and procedures, the joint statement read.

The four nations have reaffirmed their position that the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Tribunal Award is final and legally binding.

The maritime activity takes place days before a summit between the leaders of Japan, the U.S. and the Philippines, which will include a discussion of recent incidents in the South China Sea.

Since taking power in 2022, Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has pursued warmer ties with the U.S. and other western nations and adopted a tough line against what he sees as Chinese hostility, turning away from his predecessor’s pro-Beijing stance.