Philippines and Australia Launch Joint Maritime Operations Amidst South China Sea Tensions

Strategic Partnership Strengthens as Nations Commit to Rules-Based Order in the Indo-Pacific Region.

Buque de guerra

Philippines and Australia have commenced joint maritime operations this Saturday, marking a significant collaboration following the recent maritime exercise carried out by the Asian nation in conjunction with the United States. This joint deployment comes amid heightened tensions with China over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr of the Philippines stated in a release on his X profile, a social media platform, preceding Twitter, “We strive to enhance bilateral interoperability in maritime security.” He went on to emphasize that this inaugural maritime cooperation activity and subsequent ones represent practical manifestations of the deepening strategic and defense partnership between the two nations.

Highlighting the commitment of the Philippines and its allies, Marcos Jr underscored the initiative’s focus on “supporting the rules-based international order and a more peaceful, secure, and stable Indo-Pacific region.”

The joint maritime activity is scheduled to extend until Monday, taking place within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, according to a joint statement from the Filipino and Australian defense chiefs. It is notable that China asserts its claim over nearly the entire South China Sea, including areas contested by the Philippines.

Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles affirmed, “Australia and the Philippines are firmly committed to a peaceful, secure, and prosperous region, where sovereignty and agreed-upon rules and norms are respected,” as reported by Bloomberg.

This week also saw the resumption of joint patrols between the Philippines and the United States, originating near the Philippine province of Batanes, situated farther north and adjacent to Taiwan. Filipino Defense Minister Gilberto Teodoro Jr stated that similar initiatives might be undertaken in the future.

Australia stands as the sole country, apart from the United States, with which the Philippines has a Visiting Forces Agreement. The two nations have strengthened their ties this year, culminating in military exercises conducted near the South China Sea in August.

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