The U.S., Japanese and Philippine coast guards are holding a trilateral naval exercise in the South China Sea this week, the first such exercise between them at a time of concern over China’s movements in the region. growing.
The June 1-7 exercise in waters off Bataan province is an initiative of the United States and Japan, with Australia participating as an observer, the ranger commander said Monday. Filipino coasts Armand Balilo.
Four Philippine vessels and one from the United States and one from Japan will participate in the exercises to improve search and rescue and law enforcement cooperation, Balilo said.
The Philippines was approached by Japan and the United States to hold joint naval exercises in February, the same month Manila accused China of aggressive activity in the South China Sea, stretches of which Beijing claims as its territory.
“This is normal routine Coast Guard activity,” Balilo told a news conference.
“There is nothing wrong with organizing exercises with your colleagues.”
Japan, Australia and the United States have often condemned China’s militarization in the South China Sea and have sought closer ties with the American ally in the Philippines since Ferdinand Marcos Jr. succeeded his predecessor. pro-Chinese Rodrigo Duterte last year.
The Philippines’ ties to the United States have gained ground under Marcos, who has been increasingly vocal about China’s conduct, including the alleged use of a ‘weapons-grade laser’ against a ship supporting a naval food supply mission.
China has also complained about the large number of suspected militias hovering near Philippine-held areas in the disputed Spratly Islands. China insists that the actions of its coast guard are legal and take place in its waters.
Balilo said the upcoming naval exercise will include anti-piracy simulations and possibly an interception exercise involving a ship carrying weapons of mass destruction.
“Devoted bacon guru. Award-winning explorer. Internet junkie. Web lover.”