Beijing announces “combat patrols” in the South China Sea on Sunday

Beijing announces “combat patrols” in the South China Sea on Sunday

China announced it will carry out “combat patrols” Sunday in the disputed South China Sea, with the Philippines, the United States, Japan and Australia scheduled to hold joint exercises on the same day.

“On April 7, the Southern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will organize joint naval and air combat patrols in the South China Sea,” the military said in a statement.

The statement added, “All military activities that disrupt the situation in the South China Sea and create hotspots are under control,” in a clear reference to maneuvers by other countries in the same waters.

No details were provided about the nature of the Chinese maneuvers and their exact location.

The Philippines, the United States, Japan and Australia announced on Saturday that they will hold joint naval and air exercises in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone on Sunday.

In a joint statement, the four countries stressed that this would demonstrate the “collective commitment” of the allies “to strengthen regional and international cooperation in the interests of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

A tripartite summit between US President Joe Biden, his Philippine counterpart Ferdinand Marcos, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is scheduled to be held on April 11 at the White House.

The naval exercises and summit come after several skirmishes between Chinese and Filipino ships near atolls off the Philippines in recent months.

Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, including waters and islands off the coasts of several neighboring countries, despite an international court ruling against it in 2016.

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Senior US officials have repeatedly stressed the United States' “firm” commitment to defending the Philippines in the South China Sea in the event of an armed attack.

Meanwhile, the Philippines and Japan have begun talks on a defense agreement that would allow both countries to deploy troops in each other's territories. Manila has already reached a similar agreement with Australia and the United States.

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About the Author: Hermínio Guimarães

"Introvertido premiado. Viciado em mídia social sutilmente charmoso. Praticante de zumbis. Aficionado por música irritantemente humilde."

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