Pacific Ocean: Naval Exercises of Philippines, USA, Japan, Australia

Operations will take place in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines

A joint maritime military exercise between the Philippines, the United States, Japan, and Australia is scheduled for April 7. The maneuvers, according to what the participating forces explain, are intended to support a “free and open Pacific region.”

On the eve of the exercise, there was an argument between the Philippines and China after a collision in disputed waters in the southern China Sea: according to Manila, the Chinese coast guard was “annoyed” by two Filipino fishing boats, but Beijing claims this was duly a response to illegal activity. Amid the recurring clashes in this area of the sea, there is a long-standing dispute: Beijing claims it owns most of the South China Sea, including parts of the exclusive economic zones and territorial waters internationally recognized for Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. A situation that has worsened since Ferdinand Marcos Jr, president of the Philippines since 2022, politically aligned himself with the United States, departing from the very “China” line of his predecessor. There has been a lot of friction between the two countries in recent months.

The maritime exercise “provides communication and maneuvering of guards in Manila’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the southern China Sea,” explained Philippine Defense Department spokesman Arsenio Andolong, according to what Reuters reported. The four countries participating in the exercise affirm the legitimacy of the “South China Sea Arbitral Tribunal,” which in 2016 declared Chinese claims to the South China Sea illegal.