Around 1,200 Australian and 560 Filipino troops participated in a military exercise conducted in San Antonio in Zambales province, north of Manila, near the South China Sea on August 25. The Australian Defense Minister Richard Donald Marles said they have security interests in the South China Sea and would work more closely and cooperatively with the Philippines on joint patrols in the disputed waters.
Marles disclosed the practices after around 2000 military personnel gathered, including soldiers from the United States, Australia, and the Philippines. Manila President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was also one of the attendees to witness the military drills, which involved air assault as a part of the joint exercises by the countries.
These joint drills come when there is an ongoing tension between Beijing and Manila in the South China Sea. Latest military practices also involved the arrival of troops in amphibious assault vehicles by parachute, and US Osprey aircraft were also used to practice on a beach. Two Australian F-35 fighters were conducting continuous surveillance in the surrounding areas, and Australian warships were protecting from nearby water. These military exercises were at a large scale and involved air, sea, and land drills simultaneously. The current scenario shows that efforts are increasing to recapture the Chinese-occupied island.
Manila’s President said they wanted to have good relations and work more cooperatively with the military forces of the regional neighbors. He talked to a news conference, saying this aspect has been critical in how they get ready for any possible events. He added that several incidents have expressed the risks in the region.
China Refused 2016 Ruling On The Sea
President Marcos further said the first joint drills of Australian and Philippines navies would soon be conducted. While giving more details of the matter, he restated and supported the ruling by an arbitration tribunal in 2016 in the Hague under the UN Convention on the Sea Law. The 2016 ruling clearly denies the Chinese sovereign claim of the whole South China Sea and declares the 200 nautical miles of resources as the Philippines’ territory. Beijing’s government refused to participate in arbitration and continued claiming most of the Sea.
In an interview earlier on Friday, Marles emphasized the importance of upholding the rules-based order in Southeast Asia and ensuring collective security in the region. He stated that this is crucial to protecting Australia’s national security, as potential adversaries could cause significant harm before even reaching their shores.
China Warns US To Stay Out Of Purely Asian Matters
America, Australia, and the Philippines are the most prominent voices against the increasing aggression and unlawful actions by China in the disputed waters, but the Manila’s army made it clear that they were not focusing on Beijing through military drills conducted on Friday. In a very recent incident, a Chinese Coast Guard ship fired on the Philippines supply boats with water cannon and blocked its way. Boats were going to supply essentials to Manila troops. The United States and Australia seriously condemned Beijing’s navy’s actions and announced the support of the Philippines.
After the Chinese ship fired the water cannon, Washington warned to support the Manila according to its oldest treaty with Manila, which allows the US to defend the Philippines in any case it gets attacked by air, land, or Sea, including the South China Sea. In response to Washington’s comments on the matter, China has warned America to stay out of matters that are purely Asian. Vietnam, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei all claim certain areas of the South China Sea as their territory, but on the other hand, China alone claims the whole as its sovereign territory.