Three Allies Join Philippine Navy for a Show of Resolve in S. China Sea

Courtesy AFP

Published Apr 7, 2024 8:32 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Sunday, the U.S. Navy joined forces from Australia, Japan and the Philippines for a joint patrol in the South China Sea, showing resolve in the face of China's aggressive behavior towards Philippine maritime interests. 

Assets involved included the Independence-class LCS USS Mobile, the Japanese destroyer JS Akebono, the Australian frigate HMAS Warramunga, and the Philippine Navy's BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, Antonio Luna and Valentin Diaz. P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft from Australia and the U.S. joined the operation. 

In a statement, the Chinese PLA Southern Theater Command dismissed the exercise, saying that "all military activities disrupting the South China Sea situation and creating buzzes are under control." 

"Instigating others to provoke conflicts - isn't the US always holding the handle of the knife?" wrote The Global Times, an opinion-focused daily operated by the Chinese government. "If the concerned parties intend to escalate tensions in the South China Sea and undermine China's territorial and sovereign integrity, then they will become the PLA's target."

China claims ownership over the vast majority of the South China Sea, including reefs and shoals within the Philippines' 200-nautical-mile EEZ line. 

In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled that China's claims do not line up with international maritime law, and it issued a judgment in favor of the Philippines. China did not participate in the proceeding and ignored the outcome. 

Beijing insists that whenever Philippine forces operate within the western Philippine EEZ, they are trespassing within Chinese territory. The two sides face off every two to four weeks at Second Thomas Shoal, where the Philippine military maintains a crumbling outpost. Chinese coast guard vessels have injured multiple Philippine servicemembers during resupply missions.