US, Philippines, And Japan To Conduct First-Ever Joint Naval Drills In South China Sea

The U.S. will conduct joint exercises with the Coast Guards of the Philippines and Japan for the first time, starting this week amid rising tensions in the region with China.

Such trilateral drills will be done off Bataan, facing the South China Sea from June 1–7, per a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) statement.

The exercises will likely enhance interoperability and include maritime law enforcement training and manoeuvring drills, it stated.

Japan Coast Guard
Image Credit: Japan Coast Guard

The exercises are not associated with Manila’s sea disputes with Beijing, the PCG, Armand Balilo, informed the reporters.

He added that this is a routine exercise between the Coast Guards, adding that Japan and the U.S. requested such joint drills.

The Coast Guard drills are the most recent display of cooperation between the U.S. and its allies in Asia as Washington and China’s rivalry intensifies. Nearly 400 crew members on four vessels will be part of the trilateral exercises, with India and Australia possibly being there as observers, Balilo mentioned.

LAST MONTH, the U.S. and the Philippines held the largest version of their flagship military exercises, using combat aircraft and rockets to simulate sinking an enemy vessel as part of war games near the South China Sea.

The PCG has been on the front line of ongoing tensions with China in the disputed waters, recently almost colliding with Chinese vessels. Amid the spat under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Southeast Asian nation has been boosting its defence alliances with the U.S., with the American troops gaining better access to the Philippine areas earlier in 2023.

References: The Brunswick News, The Star, Aljazeera

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