PM backs navigation freedom in sea dispute

Australia will continue to support freedom of navigation in the Sth China Sea, Scott Morrison says.
Australia will continue to support freedom of navigation in the Sth China Sea, Scott Morrison says.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reiterated Australia's freedom of navigation policy in the South China Sea as tensions escalate between the US and Beijing.

Washington has declared Beijing's activity in the region illegal and sent aircraft carriers to the disputed waters.

"Australia will continue to adopt a very supportive position of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea," Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

"We back that up with our own actions, our own initiatives and our own statements."

Australian navy ships have previously conducted freedom of navigation patrols in the sea alongside the US.

China has been bolstering its military presence in the South China Sea, which is a significant trade route.

An arbitration court in The Hague ruled in 2016 that Beijing did not have historic rights to the South China Sea.

Australian Associated Press