The United States, Japan, and Australia are conducting joint naval exercises in the South China Sea this week. The core of the flotilla conducting the exercise is the American aircraft carrier USS America, Japan’s helicopter carrier JS Izumo, and Australia’s helicopter carrier HMAS Canberra.
President Joe Biden (D) had a joint statement released from Camp David, where the leaders of US, Japan, and the Republic of Korea were meeting last week that said, in part,
We strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the waters of the Indo-Pacific. In particular, we steadfastly oppose the militarization of reclaimed features; the dangerous use of coast guard and maritime militia vessels; and coercive activities. In addition, we are concerned about illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. We reiterate our firm commitment to international law, including the freedom of navigation and overflight, as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
It’s about time we’re conducting joint exercises in the South China Sea.
It’s also time to do more: conduct frequent—weekly, perhaps—combat ship sailings, along with civilian commercial sailings, through the Taiwan Strait, and sail combat flotillas as close in as navigably safe and militarily secure as possible to the South China Sea islands that the PRC has seized and militarized. Conduct routine combat aircraft low overflight of those islands. Provide naval escort to the Philippine resupply missions to the Philippines’ establishment at the Second Thomas Shoal.
It would be useful, too, to get the RoK and the Republic of the Philippines involved in such naval exercise, along with Vietnam.
There also needs to be joint air and land exercises on the island of Taiwan and the Japanese chain of small islands stretching away to the east from northeastern Taiwan (and naval anti-landing exercises on those small islands). These exercises should involve American, the Republic of China, Japanese, RoK, and Australian forces.