Australia and the Philippines start coordinated air and maritime patrols in the South China maritime.

The Philippines and Australia began their first joint sea and air patrols in the South China Sea on Saturday, days after Manila took similar steps with the US, concluding patrols that started in waters near Taiwan.

“Today marks the launch of the inaugural Maritime Cooperative Activity between our armed forces and the defense forces of our strategic partner, Australia,” Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on X.

He said they endeavor to enhance bilateral interoperability in maritime security and domain awareness, test doctrines, existing protocols, and enhance efficiency, and foster closer cooperation between the countries’ armed forces.

The inaugural maritime cooperative activity and those that may follow are a “practical manifestation of the growing and deepening strategic and defense partnership” between the countries, he added.

He said the joint patrol highlights the shared commitment to supporting the rules-based international order and a more peaceful, secure, and stable Indo-Pacific region.

The three-day exercises follow discussions by the Philippines and Australia early this year on joint patrols.

This week, the US and the Philippines held joint air and maritime patrols involving the two countries’ air forces and navies in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, concluding on Thursday.

Territorial disputes in the South China Sea involve conflicting island and maritime claims in the region by several sovereign states, including China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

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