POLITICS

Australian, US, Filipino forces practice retaking an island in a drill along the South China Sea

Aug 25, 2023, 12:48 AM | Updated: 3:26 am

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Australian and Filipino forces, backed by U.S. Marines, practiced retaking an island seized by hostile forces in a large military drill Friday on the northwestern Philippine coast facing the disputed South China Sea.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and visiting Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles watched the mock beach landings, assaults and helicopter insertion of forces on a Philippine navy base with 1,200 Australians, 560 Filipinos and 120 U.S. Marines participating.

On Monday, Australian, Filipino and American forces conducted air assault maneuvers in Rizal town in western Palawan province, which also faces the South China Sea.

The three countries are among the most vocal critics of China’s increasingly aggressive and confrontational actions in the disputed waters, but the Philippine military said Beijing was not the envisioned target of the combat drills, the largest so far between Australia and the Philippines.

“It’s an important aspect of how we prepare for any eventuality and considering that there have been so many events that attest to the volatility of the region,” Marcos said in a news conference after the drills.

Marles said in a separate news conference with his Philippine counterpart, Gilberto Teodoro Jr., that the drills were aimed at promoting the rule of law and peace in the region.

“The message that we want to convey to the region and to the world from an exercise of this kind is that we are two countries committed to the global rules-based order,” Marles said. “We are committed to an idea of a world in which disputes are determined by reference to international law.”

“Peace is maintained through the protection of the global rules-based order and its functionality around the world and, in truth, around the world today, we see it under pressure,” Marles said.

Marles and Teodoro said in a joint statement that they would pursue plans for joint patrols in the South China Sea, which the Australian defense chief said may be launched soon.

They reaffirmed support for a 2016 ruling by an arbitration tribunal in The Hague under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea that largely invalidated China’s claim to virtually the entire South China Sea and upheld the Philippines’ control over resources in a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

China refused to participate in the arbitration and continues to defy the ruling.

In the latest flare-ups in the disputes, a Chinese coast guard ship used a water cannon on Aug. 5 to try to block a Philippine supply run at Second Thomas Shoal, where Filipino troops are stationed.

Australia and the U.S. expressed support to the Philippines and raised strong concerns over the Chinese coast guard ships’ actions. Washington renewed a warning that it is obligated to defend the Philippines, its oldest treaty ally in Asia, if Filipino forces, ships and aircraft come under attack, including in the South China Sea.

Two Philippine supply boats managed to pass the Chinese blockade on Tuesday in a tense confrontation witnessed by journalists from The Associated Press.

China has warned the U.S. from meddling in what it says is a purely Asian dispute. Washington has said it will continue patrolling the disputed waters to promote freedom of navigation and overflight.

Aside from the China and the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping territorial claims in the waterway, a potential Asian flashpoint which has also become a delicate front in the U.S.-China rivalry.

___

Associated Press writer Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, contributed to this report.

Politics

Associated Press

Shooting at splash pad in Detroit suburb leaves ‘numerous wounded victims,’ authorities say

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Multiple people were wounded Saturday in a shooting at a splash pad in the Detroit suburb of Rochester Hills, authorities said. Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard told reporters that “it sounds like we have nine, maybe 10 victims with gunshot wounds, victims of varying kinds of injuries.” Authorities said they […]

10 hours ago

Associated Press

Victim identified in Southern California homicide case, 41 years after her remains were found

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A victim whose skull was found by children in a Southern California city in 1983 has been identified 41 years after her remains were first discovered, authorities said. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department identified the victim Friday as Maritza Glean Grimmett, a Panamanian native who moved to the U.S. in […]

12 hours ago

Associated Press

Missouri abortion ban wasn’t about lawmakers imposing religious beliefs, judge says

A judge in Missouri says lawmakers who passed a restrictive abortion ban weren’t trying to impose their religious beliefs on everyone in the state, rejecting a case filed by more than a dozen Christian, Jewish and Unitarian Universalist leaders who support abortion rights. The groups sought a permanent injunction last year barring Missouri from enforcing […]

13 hours ago

Associated Press

Trump blasts immigrants for taking jobs as he courts voters at a Black church, MAGA event in Detroit

DETROIT (AP) — Donald Trump blamed immigrants for stealing jobs and government resources as he courted separate groups of Black voters and hardcore conservatives in battleground Michigan on Saturday. The Republican former president also made several new baseless claims attacking the nation’s voting system. But Trump’s fiery comments on illegal immigration, long a staple in […]

22 hours ago

Associated Press

World leaders meet in Switzerland to discuss a Ukraine peace roadmap. Russia is notably absent

OBBÜRGEN, Switzerland (AP) — Dozens of world leaders converged on a Swiss resort Saturday to discuss how to bring peace to war-ravaged Ukraine, though any hopes of a real breakthrough were muted by the absence of Russia. More than two years into the war, the combatants remain as far apart as they’ve ever been, with […]

1 day ago

Associated Press

Clooney and Roberts help Biden raise $28 million at a fundraiser featuring dire warnings about Trump

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Some of Hollywood’s brightest stars headlined a glitzy fundraiser for President Joe Biden on Saturday night, helping raise what his reelection campaign said was $28 million and hoping to energize would-be supporters for a November election that they argued was among the most important in the nation’s history. George Clooney, Julia […]

1 day ago

Australian, US, Filipino forces practice retaking an island in a drill along the South China Sea