Canberra: Australia has agreed to boost its security cooperation with the United States, Japan and the Philippines, in response to China's growing assertiveness in the South China Sea, reported Voice of America (VOA).

China's ambitions in the South China Sea have continued to alarm Australia, its Indo-Pacific allies and the United States.

Australia, the United States, and Japan, in their response, have agreed to step up military drills with the Philippines.

On Friday, Defence officials from the four countries met in Hawaii and declared their commitment to protecting freedom of navigation in the region.

Earlier this week, the Philippines accused China of "dangerous manoeuvres" and "harassment" after its use of water cannons against two Philippine vessels during a patrol in the South China Sea, VOA reported.

Last month, Australia, the US and Japan held their first joint naval exercises in the region.

Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles emphasised that closer ties would enhance security.

"There is a power and a significance in our four countries acting together. The meetings that we have held represent a very significant message to the region and to the world about four democracies that are committed to the global rules-based order," he said.

According to the experts, increased military cooperation with the Philippines is an attempt to counter China's increased aggression.

Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that Beijing's regional ambitions are causing growing concern.

"What you are seeing is concern that China will continue to escalate its aggression against the Philippines to try and coerce them into backing down and accepting Chinese domination of the entirety of the South China Sea, which China wants as its territorial waters. This is China undertaking hostile actions against a sovereign state in international waters," he said.

In response, Beijing urged the Philippine government not to "challenge China's resolve" to defend China's sovereignty in the region.

China has sweeping claims in the South China Sea, which has rich fishing grounds and is a major international shipping route.

Davis said that China's territorial ambitions could have implications for Australia and the United States.

"It would affect Australia because then China could deny our commercial shipping the right to passage through those waters and it would affect US security," he said.

Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have claims overlapping with each other's or China's in the South China Sea.

Moreover, Beijing has refused to recognize a 2016 international arbitration ruling that rejected its expansive claims in the region.

Beijing has insisted that efforts by the US to boost its security alliances in the Indo-Pacific region are aimed at containing China and threatening stability.

This report is auto-generated from a syndicated feed