The United States, India and Japan will hold naval exercises this year in waters off the Northern Philippines near the West Philippine Sea, officials from the U.S. military said on Wednesday.

The report comes after the US warned China saying there would be consequences on their militarization of the West Philippine Sea.

Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships transit in formation at the conclusion of Keen Sword 15, a joint/bilateral field training exercise involving U.S. military and the Japan Self-Defense Force (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chris Cavagnaro/Released)
Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships transit in formation at the conclusion of Keen Sword 15, a joint/bilateral field training exercise involving U.S. military and the Japan Self-Defense Force (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chris Cavagnaro/Released)

The naval drills will be held in the northern Philippine Sea, said Admiral Harry B. Harris, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, adding that Japan will take part in the exercise.

In a security conference in New Delhi, Harris said that Freedom of the seas was a fundamental right of all nations.

“While some countries seek to bully smaller nations through intimidation and coercion, I note with admiration India’s example of the peaceful resolution of disputes with your neighbors in the waters of the Indian Ocean, ” he said.

Tensions in the West Philippine Sea have risen recently as after China deployed surface-to-air missiles and fighter jets in the Paracel Islands.

The United States and the Philippines along with other claimant countries protest Beijing’s move with the U.S. saying they will think of other creative ways to punish China.

Admiral Harris said that the U.S. wants to expand naval drills with India every year into joint operations across the Asia-Pacific, which could draw India directly into the row in the West Philippine Sea.

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