South China Sea Current Affairs - 2019

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AUMX: 1st ASEAN-US Maritime Exercise begins

The first ASEAN-US Maritime Exercise (AUMX) between regional bloc- Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and United States kicked off at the Sattahip Naval Base in Thailand.  The five day naval exercise is co-led by the navies of US and Thailand. It will stretch into international waters in Southeast Asia, including Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea and conclude in Singapore.

AUMX 2019

It will see participation of navies of all 10 members of ASEAN (Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam) and US. 8 warships, 4 aircraft and more than thousand personnel from US and 10 ASEAN countries are taking part. Navies of these countries will take part in the naval exercises which include boarding of target vessels to simulate search and seizure.

Significance

This mega maritime exercise comes at a time of stepped-up US engagement in region and tensions between China, US and Southeast Asian nations over South China Sea (SCS). China is claiming its sovereignty over much of SCS by invoking its so-called nine-dash line as supposed historical justification to the waters, which are key global shipping route. Its claim is overlapping parts of SCS are claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Philippines.

Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) meets in Bangkok

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue also known as Quad is an informal strategic grouping consisting of India, US, Australia and Japan recently met in Bangkok in Thailand.

Key Highlights of Meet

  • The meet in Bangkok was attended by senior officials of Quad (India, US, Japan and Australia).
  • At the meet countries held consultations on their collective efforts for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. The consultations also underscored Quad’s intention of continuing with close coordination and collaboration among themselves in support of sustainable, private sector-led development, maritime security of the region and of good governance.
  • The Quad (or QSD) is committed to preserving and promoting the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region. At this meet they reaffirmed their shared commitment.
  • The Quad call for an open Indo-Pacific region (which is a biogeographic region) is because China has been trying to expand its military presence in the Indo-Pacific.
  • China claims almost all of the South China Sea (SCS) even though other countries of same region viz. Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have also countered China’s claims over it.