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Unprecedented naval exercises between the US and Southeast Asian nations

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — The United States said it will organize unprecedented joint naval exercises in September with 10 nations in Southeast Asia as part of a struggle for influence in the region between Americans and Chinese.

The US Navy has traditionally been the dominant naval power in the region. The strengthening of the US presence in the region comes at a time when the trade war between Washington and Beijing is escalating.

In August, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attended a regional summit with the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to promote the US strategy of President Donald Trump’s India-Pacific region.

There is an atmosphere of intense hostility between Washington and Beijing over the South China Sea, which the giant of Asia claims sovereignty over almost all of its islands, for what it considers historical justifications.

The Asian giant supports his claims to sovereignty over this vital maritime region for world trade by deploying a weapon on these small islands.

The United States considers these activities to threaten the security of the region. The US Navy regularly conducts “freedom of navigation” operations to counter Beijing.

But despite differences over sovereignty with four members of ASEAN (Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei), China last year organized a joint naval exercise with the Asian regional organization.

The US Navy and ASEAN countries will hold their own exercises on September 2, according to the US Embassy in Bangkok.

The exercise will be launched from a naval base in eastern Thailand and will be conducted mainly off the southern coast of Vietnam, the embassy said.

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