Australian and Filipino troops hold exercises in South China Sea

Joint exercises in the South China Sea
Joint exercises in the South China Sea Copyright AFP
By Philip Andrew Churm with AFP
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Australian and Filipino troops have held joint military exercises near a flashpoint in the South China Sea which is claimed by China


Australian and Filipino troops have been holding joint exercises in the South China Sea with no sign of agreement on the disputed waters.

China claims sovereignty of the region despite international courts ruling against it. The Philippines also lays claim to the area.

China also deploys hundreds of coast guard, navy and other vessels to patrol and militarise reefs in the South China Sea.

Friday's joint drills took place at a naval base about 240 kilometres east of Scarborough Shoal, a fishing ground China seized from the Philippines in 2012 after a tense standoff.

One of the exercises of the manoeuvres was to reclaim an island from an enemy. The Philippines president has described the operation as "extremely important" for the strategic cooperation between the two countries.

About 1,200 Australian soldiers and 560 Filipino marines stormed a beach during the exercise, arriving in amphibious assault vehicles, by parachute and aboard US Osprey aircraft.

Two advanced Australian F-35 fighter jets provided close air support, and Australian warships secured the surrounding waters.

Earlier this week the Philippines hosted a meeting with its fellow members in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China to negotiate a code of conduct in the South China Sea.

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