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Chinese patrols South China Sea as Philippines, US, Japan and Australia conduct joint military drills
Photo Courtesy: Unsplash

Chinese patrols South China Sea as Philippines, US, Japan and Australia conduct joint military drills

| @indiablooms | 08 Apr 2024, 06:58 pm

China’s military conducted a naval and air patrol in the disputed South China Sea on Sunday (April 8, 2024), amid joint drills conducted in the area on the same day by the Philippines, US, Japan and Australia.

“The Southern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army will conduct a joint air and sea combat patrol in the South China Sea on April 7,” the Southern Theatre Command announced on its WeChat account on Sunday morning as quoted by South China Morning Post.

In what appeared to be a reference to the joint drills by the US and the three other countries, the command said that military activities “intended to sabotage the situation” and create “hotspots” in the waters were “well under control”.

Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and the United States last week uphold the right to freedom of navigation and overflight, and respect for maritime rights under international law, reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). 

"Demonstrating our collective commitment to strengthen regional and international cooperation in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific, our combined defense/armed forces will conduct a Maritime Cooperative Activity (MCA) within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone on April 7, 2024," read a statement issued by the Department of Defense.

The MCA will be conducted by naval/maritime and air force units in a manner that is consistent with international law as well as domestic laws and rules of respective nations, and with due regard to the safety of navigation and the rights and interests of other States.

"It will also demonstrate professional interactions among naval/maritime and air forces. Ultimately, the MCA will strengthen the interoperability of our defence/armed forces doctrines, tactics, techniques, and procedures," read a statement issued by US Department of Defense.

"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. Our four nations reaffirm the position regarding the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Tribunal Award as a final and legally binding decision on the parties to the dispute.

Lloyd J. Austin III, Secretary of Defense, United States, said: "Every country should be free to conduct lawful air and maritime operations. These activities with our allies Australia, Japan, and the Philippines underscore our shared commitment to ensuring that all countries are free to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows. Our operations together support peace and stability at the heart of our shared vision for a free and open region."

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