President Joe Biden, following a meeting with Philippine leader Ferdinand Marcos Jr., said any attack on the Armed Forces of the Philippines or ships would trigger US defense commitments, a message meant to reassure a key ally in the face of rising tensions with China.
“President Biden reaffirms the United States’ firm coalition commitments to the Philippines,” according to a joint statement from the two leaders Monday from the White House, which cites the two countries’ 71-year-old mutual defense pact.
The leaders also reaffirmed their “unwavering commitment to freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea” and stressed “the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as an indispensable component of global security and prosperity.”
On Monday, Marcos made his first visit to the White House since taking office as president of the Philippines last year, amid strained relations with China over… South China Sea So is Taiwan. Defense and economic issues dominated his talks with Biden as the two sought to strengthen the alliance between their countries.
Other highlights from the meeting include:
* Manila and Washington are “looking forward” to establishing three modes of cooperation that include Japan and Australia.
* The United States and the Philippines have also agreed to adopt bilateral defense guidelines, which aim to demystify their defense treaty.
* The two countries will co-host the 2024 Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Manila to “further establish” the Southeast Asian country as a regional supply chain and investment hub.
* The two countries will continue to cooperate in the field of wind, solar and geothermal energy and strengthen cooperation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Aircraft trade
Last week, the US accused China of harassing Philippine ships after their near misses in those waters. The incident occurred as Washington and Manila conducted their largest joint defense exercise.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Monday that the United States will announce new efforts to modernize the Philippine military including the provision of additional C-130 patrol aircraft and ships.
Earlier this year, the US military secured greater access to Philippine military bases near Taiwan and the South China Sea, an agreement that Chinese officials have denounced.
The Biden administration is also sending a presidential trade and investment mission to the Philippines to boost cooperation, including on clean energy, critical minerals, and food security.
“Together, we are deepening our economic cooperation,” Biden said before meeting Marcos. “I think it’s mutually beneficial.”
Marcos, whose father ruled the Philippines until his ouster in 1986, highlighted the security challenges facing the country.
“It is only natural that the Philippines looks to its only treaty partner in the world to strengthen and redefine the relationship that we have,” Marcos said. “The Philippines is probably in, arguably, the most complex geopolitical situation in the world right now.”
Professor Renato de Castro of De La Salle University in Manila said the two leaders’ meeting showed that the two countries are determined to “modernize” relations by including other regional allies and addressing economic issues. “It is very clear that there is a concerted effort to expand the coalition, and this is something very important,” he said.


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