Australia to step up South China Sea defence cooperation with US – but won’t commit to patrols

Allies release joint statement of ‘deep concern’ over China’s actions in Hong Kong and repression of Uighurs and vow to fight disinformation

Australia has pledged to increase defence cooperation with the US in the South China Sea – but stopped short of making any specific new commitment on freedom of navigation operations, despite American pressure.

The two allies have also decided during high-level talks in Washington to set up a working group to push back at false information across the Indo-Pacific region, warning that “state-sponsored malicious disinformation and interference in democratic processes are significant and evolving threats”.

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