Australia offers more funding for South China Sea pact

STORY: Australia said on Monday (March 4) the Pacific and Southeast Asian countries are facing serious defence threats as it set aside more funds for a maritime security pact with ASEAN countries during a summit with the Southeast Asian bloc.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Australia would invest A$64 million ($41.8 million) over four years, including A$40 million in new funding, which would contribute to the security and prosperity of the region, consistent with the priorities of Southeast Asian countries.

Philippines Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo said the South China Sea was of strategic importance that holds a promising future.

The Philippines is ramping up efforts to counter what it describes as China's "aggressive activities" in the South China Sea, which has also become a flashpoint for Chinese and U.S. tensions around naval operations.