Australia Backs US in South China Sea

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

October 27, 2015

 Though Australia is not involved in the United States’ current naval activity in the South China Sea, the country strongly supports the policy of freedom of navigation, said Defense Minister Marise Payne.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Navy sent its guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen within 12 nautical miles of two Chinese-built islands Subi and Mischief in the South China Sea, openly challenging China's territorial claims in the area.
China has called the move provocative and said it has warned and followed the U.S. ship, which according to China's Foreign Ministry “illegally” entered Chinese waters without the government’s permission.
“It is important to recognize that all states have a right under international law to freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight, including in the South China Sea,” Payne said in a statement Monday. “Australia strongly supports these rights.”
“The United States has publicly declared its policy of conducting Freedom of Navigation operations globally, consistent with international law,” Payne said.
Payne said Australia is not involved in the U.S. Navy’s current activity in the South China Sea, but said the country will continue to cooperate with the U.S. and other partners on maritime security.
“Australia has a legitimate interest in the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, unimpeded trade and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea,” Payne said. “Approximately 60 percent of Australia’s exports pass through the South China Sea.”
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