The Philippines will hold joint naval exercises with the United States, Japan and Australia in the South China Sea on Sunday, April 7.

“Demonstrating our collective commitment to strengthening regional and international cooperation towards a free and open Indo-Pacific, our Combined Defense Forces and Armed Forces will hold a maritime cooperation activity in the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone on April 7, 2024,” the four countries said in a joint statement.

The South China Sea is a maritime area over which Beijing claims almost complete sovereignty, and the exercises will be held a few days before a summit which will bring together, in Washington, the American president, Joe Biden, and the leaders of the Philippines and the Japan.

An Australian warship on site

Earlier this week, the Australian warship HMAS Warramunga arrived in the Philippine province of Palawan, close to a disputed maritime zone.

In 2023, regional tensions have intensified, with China more markedly asserting its claims to maritime areas also claimed by the Philippines and Japan, as well as to the autonomously governed island of Taiwan. In response, the United States has sought to strengthen its alliances in the region, particularly with its traditional allies, Japan and the Philippines.