US, Japan, Australia conducted naval exercises in South China Sea on Monday — US Navy

The operation took place as the US and its allies stepped up calls for a "free and open" Indo-Pacific amid mounting concerns about China's assertiveness in the region. (Photo by Reuters)

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TOKYO (Oct 20): The US, Japan and Australia conducted trilateral naval exercises in the South China Sea yesterday, the US Seventh Fleet said today.

It was their fifth joint operation this year in the fleet's area of operations, it said in a statement.

The operation took place as the US and its allies stepped up calls for a "free and open" Indo-Pacific amid mounting concerns about China's assertiveness in the region.