World News

Days before US President Joe Biden is scheduled to take part in the first trilateral summit with the leaders of the Philippines and Japan, an exercise is scheduled to take place on Sunday in the disputed South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost fully.

Because the drills have not yet been formally disclosed, the diplomatic sources only agreed to speak on condition of anonymity.

The Australian cruiser HMAS Warramunga sailed into the Philippine island province of Palawan earlier this week, which is located near the heavily contested waterways.

A tour “aimed at strengthening military relations with partner nations” was made, according to the Philippine military.

The previous year has seen an increase in regional tensions as China has grown more assertive in claiming waters that are also claimed by the Philippines, Japan, and self-ruled

As a result, the US has worked to fortify its ties throughout the area, particularly those with Japan and the Philippines, two countries that are treaty allies.

The most recent of Biden’s scheduled summits with Asia-Pacific partners will take place on April 11 at the White House with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.

Additionally, Biden will meet separately with Kishida and Marcos on a bilateral basis.

According to one of the diplomatic sources who spoke to AFP, the US, Japanese, and Philippine coast guards are anticipated to announce combined patrols during the summit. Last year, joint drills were conducted for the first time.

The exercise and summit come after several run-ins in recent months between Chinese and Philippine sailors close to disputed reefs off the nation in Southeast Asia.

High-ranking US officials have stated time and time again that the US is “ironclad” in its pledge to protect the Philippines from any armed attack in the South China Sea.

Under Marcos, Manila’s relations with Beijing have been worse as he has adopted a more assertive position against Chinese activity in the sea than his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte.

Despite competing claims from other countries and an international finding that its claim lacks legal validity, China maintains ownership of the majority of the canal, through which trillions of dollars of trade travel each year.

In an adamant declaration released on March 28, Marcos promised that the Philippines would not be “cowed into quiet, surrender, or

According to a spokeswoman for the Philippine foreign affairs department, negotiations for a defence agreement that would permit both nations to station troops on one another’s soil were “still ongoing” as of Thursday.

Similar agreements already exist between Manila and the US and Australia.

During a Thursday interview with the Nikkei business daily, Kishida stated that Japan should “take greater responsibility” and demonstrate a stronger presence in order to provide options for the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations.

In addition, he said that Tokyo, Washington, and Manila “will work together to proceed with trilateral cooperative projects,” citing digital technology, semiconductors, and next-generation nuclear energy among other areas.

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