MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Australia and the Philippines have elevated their seven-decade ties to a strategic level to broaden an alliance underpinned by their rejection of China’s increasingly provocative actions in the disputed South China Sea. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his Philippine counterpart, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., signed the pact Friday in Manila to upgrade their ties. They also agreed to hold an annual meeting of their defense chiefs. Albanese says that aside from an aim to further boost trade and economic engagement, their countries have common views about the need to uphold international law,” including in the South China Sea. China and the Philippines are among the countries that have been locked in a decadeslong territorial standoff in the disputed waterway.
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