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06-2022

Australian military determined to continue surveillance of South China Sea

Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles said Australia would continue to exercise its right to pass through the South China Sea despite opposition from China.

The South China Sea is one of the most disputed areas in the world. Most are claimed by China, but neighboring countries and the US oppose it.

The sea is an important gateway for world shipping. The waters are reported to contain large, undiscovered oil and gas reserves, which analysts say are “a factor that exacerbates maritime and territorial disputes.”

The South China Sea is bordered by Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Australia has been conducting aerial surveillance operations in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, called Operation Gateway, a mission that has been ongoing since 1980.

Tom Corbain, a researcher in the Foreign and Defense Policy Program at the Center for US Studies at the University of Sydney, said: “This event is significant because it is the latest – and perhaps the boldest – example in a series of close encounters between Australians and the past decade. in the entire region of Chinese military assets in the past 18 months.”

Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles met his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe in Singapore on Sunday. Relations between the two countries have been strained in recent years due to various political and trade disputes, including Beijing’s ambitions in the South China Sea. Sunday’s talks at the Regional Security Summit in Singapore were the first high-level bilateral meeting in more than two years.

Marles said he plans to rebuild relations “step by step” and insisted Australia will continue to conduct air surveillance in the South China Sea region, even though a Chinese jet struck Australian air with aluminum debris in May. Army aircraft intercepted and damaged. [ps/lt]

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