The United States, Australia, Japan, and the Philippines have announced that they will conduct joint military exercises, both maritime and aerial, in the South China Sea tomorrow (Sunday).

The Philippine Ministry of Defense issued a joint statement today with the defense ministers of the four countries, saying that military forces will engage in cooperative maritime activities to support the freedom and openness of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

The ministry added that the naval exercises will take place for one day within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea tomorrow (Sunday), with the aim of enhancing joint efforts in doctrines, tactics, techniques, and procedures of the armed forces of the four countries.

These exercises come days before a trilateral summit between the leaders of the United States, Japan, and the Philippines in Washington, where recent developments in the South China Sea will be discussed.

Regional tensions in the area escalated last year as China increased its confidence in asserting sovereignty over the South China Sea, a claim also contested by the Philippines, Japan, and Taiwan.

In response, the United States has sought to strengthen its alliances in the region, including with treaty-bound countries like Japan and the Philippines. (QNA)
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