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Saturday, April 13, 2024

PH joins allies in sub pact

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TOKYO—The United States, Australia, Japan and the Philippines are planning anti-submarine drills in the South China Sea on April 7, Kyodo news agency reported on Tuesday.

It would mark the first such full-fledged exercise for the navies of the four countries in those waters and is likely aimed at demonstrating solidarity with the Philippines against China’s growing assertiveness, Kyodo said, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.

Earlier on Tuesday, the National Security Council said that the Philippines and the US’ national security advisers have discussed “the recent spate of illegal, coercive, aggressive, and deceptive actions by agents of the China Coast Guard and the Chinese Maritime Militia” in the West Philippine Sea.

The most recent incident occurred on March 23, when the China Coast Guard blasted the Philippine vessel Unaizah May 4 with water cannons while it was on it way to Ayungin Shoal on a resupply mission. Four Filipinos were injured in the attack.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a conduit for more than $3 trillion in annual ship commerce. Its territorial claims overlap with those of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei.

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Waters within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) have been renamed the West Philippine Sea.

In 2016, an international arbitration tribunal in The Hague said China’s claims had no legal basis, a decision that Beijing has rejected.

China has also accused the US of “interfering” in the region. “The United States is not a party to the South China Sea issue and has no right to interfere in maritime issues that are between China and the Philippines,” its foreign ministry said.

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