ASEAN showcases unity with naval drills in South China Sea

Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have launched joint naval exercises in the South China Sea. The drills are aimed at showcasing unity at a time when China is flexing its muscles in those waters.

ASEAN delegates attended Friday's opening ceremony at Subic Bay naval base in the northern Philippines.

An officer in the Philippine Navy described the exercises as an important event that brings the navies together to demonstrate their collective commitment to regional security and stability.

The joint exercises to strengthen naval cooperation are the second for the bloc since 2017.

Vessels from seven member countries, including Vietnam and Malaysia, are taking part in the drills.

Most of them have territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.

The fleet plans to conduct live-fire drills and other activities in Philippine territorial waters in the sea.

On Wednesday, ASEAN navies agreed to establish their first maritime guidelines designed to avoid unintended incidents in the open seas.