Australia, Japan and the United States are planning a joint navy drill in the South China Sea, this Wednesday, after a recent show of Chinese aggression in the disputed waters. Russia has also heightened activity near Japanese and South Korea waters with Chinese naval ships crossing waters between the southern Japanese islands of Okinawa and Miyako.
On August 5, Chinese coast guard ships, as per Filipino security officials, used water cannons against Philippine vessels in the contested waterway. They said six Chinese coast guard ships and two militia vessels blocked two Philippine navy-chartered civilian boats taking supplies to the Philippine forces stationed at the Second Thomas Shoal.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines, in an official statement, said the mission to the Shoal is a clear demonstration of the Philippines’ resolve to stand against threats and coercion and their commitment in upholding the rule of law. Here, disputes have long been seen as a potential flashpoint and have become a fault line in the rivalry between the US and China in the region.
The US, as per officials, plans to deploy an aircraft carrier – the USS America, while Japan would send one of its biggest warships, the helicopter carrier JS Izumo. And the Royal Australian Navy would send its HMAS Canberra, which also carries helicopters. The Philippines would not be participating in this drill because of military logistical limitations. But Manila is likely to become a participant in the near future.
Last Friday, the Russian and Chinese warships conducted joint maritime patrols, including rescue training and drills for countering airstrikes, in the Pacific Ocean. The drills also included practicing the replenishment of fuel reserves by ships and the transfer of cargo on the go; the joint detachment of ships covered more than 6,400 nautical miles since the start of the exercise. The Chinese defense ministry said the drills are not aimed at a third party and not related to the current international and regional situation.