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South China Sea: US, Philippines, Japan, Australia to hold naval drill on Sunday amid China’s aggressive actions

It would be the first full-scale exercise involving the four countries aimed at enhancing interoperability among their forces, the sources said. The exercise will include anti-submarine warfare training, communication drills and sailing ships in formation.

Sunday’s planned drill would occur against the backdrop of China’s assertiveness in the resource-rich South China Sea. The latest incident happened on March 23 when the Chinese Coast Guard fired a water cannon at a Philippine vessel on a mission to the Manila-controlled Second Thomas Shoal.

The vessel was heavily damaged in the incident, while Filipino servicemen aboard were injured.


Chinese floating barrier blocks entrance to Philippine ships at South China Sea flashpoint

The Royal Australian Navy’s frigate Warramunga arrived in Palawan for a port call ahead of the joint exercise, with Commander Jennifer Graham paying a courtesy call on the Philippine military commander in the area, a Philippine source said.

The Warramunga, an Australian aircraft, a Japanese destroyer, and several naval assets from the United States and the Philippines are taking part in the drill, another source said. The exercise will be conducted outside Philippine territorial waters but within its exclusive economic zone.

The Philippines has expressed its intention to hold a joint exercise with the three countries several times a year, the source added.