US, three allies to hold joint drills in South China Sea

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US, three allies to hold joint drills in South China Sea

Manila: The United States, Japan, Australia and the Philippines will hold their first joint naval exercises, including anti-submarine warfare training, in a show of force on Sunday in the South China Sea where Beijing’s aggressive actions to assert its territorial claims have caused alarm.

The four treaty allies and security partners are holding the exercises to safeguard “the rule of law that is the foundation for a peaceful and stable Indo-Pacific region” and uphold freedom of navigation and overflight, they said in a joint statement issued by their defence chiefs.

Besides the US, Japan, Australia and the Philippines will participate in their first joint naval exercises in the South China Sea on Sunday
According to a joint statement, the four treaty allies are holding the exercises to safeguard “the rule of law that is the foundation for a peaceful and stable Indo-Pacific region”.

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China was not mentioned by name in the statement, but the four countries reaffirmed their stance that a 2016 international arbitration ruling, which invalidated China’s expansive claims on historical grounds, was final and legally binding.

China has refused to participate in the arbitration, rejected the ruling and continues to defy it. The Philippines brought its disputes with China to international arbitration in 2013 after a tense sea standoff. There was no immediate comment by China.

Last year, the Chinese Foreign Ministry warned against military exercises involving the United States and its allies in the disputed waters harming its security and territorial interests.

“We stand with all nations in safeguarding the international order based on the rule of law that is the foundation for a peaceful and stable Indo-Pacific region,” the four nations said, but did not give details of the drills, called the Maritime Cooperative Activity.

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