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Australia, US and Japan Plan Joint Navy Drills in Disputed South China Sea

Australia, the United States and Japan are planning a joint navy drill in the South China Sea off the western Philippines this week to underscore their commitment to the rule of law in the region after a recent show of Chinese aggression in the disputed waters, Filipino security officials say.

On August 5, Chinese coast guard ships used water cannons against Philippine vessels in the contested waterway where disputes have long been regarded as a potential flashpoint and have become a fault line in the rivalry between the US and China in the region.

The drill will include three aircraft and helicopter carriers sailing together in a show of force and undertaking joint drills.

Their commanders are set to meet with their Philippine counterparts in Manila after the offshore drills, two Philippine security officials told The Associated Press.

Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to publicly discuss details of the planned drills.

The Royal Australian Navy will send HMAS Canberra, which carries helicopters, one of the two officials said, adding that the joint drill was planned a few months ago.

The US plans to deploy its amphibious assault ship, USS America, while Japan will send one of its biggest warships, the helicopter carrier JS Izumo.

The official said the Philippines would not be part of this week’s drills due to military logistical limitations but was open to becoming a participant in the future.

Australia, the US and Japan were among several countries that immediately expressed support for the Philippines and concern over the Chinese action following the tense stand-off earlier this month.

Source : ABC News