Australia will strengthen its cooperation with the US Navy but will likely stay away from the latter’s plan to sail warships in the disputed South China Sea.
The annual US-Australian defence talks between Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, defence minister Marise Payne and the US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter were held in Boston yesterday.
According to Bishop, Australia is enhancing its close naval cooperation with the US and supports the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The US is reportedly planning to send warships around the man-made Spratly islands in the South China Sea, arguing that the area is situated in international waters.
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter was quoted by AFP as saying: "Australia and America both want to sustain and renew an Asia-Pacific regional security architecture where everyone rises and everyone prospers."
"But make no mistake, the US will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, as we do around the world. And the South China Sea is not and will not be an exception."
Currently, Australian naval vessels operate independently through the South China Sea.
The Chinese embassy in Australia was quoted by the Financial Review as saying: "We urge the relevant sides to stop applying [a] double-standard.
"It would be more helpful if they would honour their commitment of not taking sides on relevant disputes and do more to promote regional peace and security…rather than light a fire and add fuel to the flames."
The Philippines, one of the countries claiming a share in the islands, has supported the US decision to sail warship around the Chinese-built island.