US, Allies Conducting Maritime Drills in Philippines



Apr 7, 2024

Bloomberg reporting – The United States, Australia, Japan, and the Philippines are set to conduct joint military drills in the South China Sea on April 7, amidst escalating tensions between Manila and Beijing over the disputed maritime region. This collaborative effort, aimed at bolstering interoperability among the four nations’ armed forces, will take place within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd James Austin emphasized the importance of lawful air and maritime operations and highlighted the exercises as a testament to the countries’ dedication to ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight in accordance with international law. These drills are scheduled just days before key discussions between Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and President Joe Biden at the White House, focusing on economic cooperation and security in the Indo-Pacific region.

Recent incidents in the South China Sea, including a confrontation where a Filipino civilian boat was reportedly attacked by China Coast Guard ships, underscore the region’s volatile situation. The upcoming talks among the leaders will address these tensions, with the four nations reiterating their commitment to the principles of freedom of navigation, overflight rights, and respect for maritime law as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Moreover, they collectively recognize the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Tribunal Award, which favored the Philippines in its dispute with China, as final and legally binding. This award, issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, remains a pivotal point in the ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

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