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Biden hosts Philippines counterpart, Japan PM for first ever trilateral meeting amid China tensions

First Published: 12th April, 2024 10:17 IST

"When we stand as one, we're able to forge a better future for all," Biden said in the East Room of the White House Thursday.

US President Joe Biden on Thursday hosted the Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for the first-ever trilateral summit between the three countries and said that the US commitments to the defence of Japan and the Philippines remain “ironclad,” CNN reported.
The meeting, which came amid separate territorial disputes involving Japan, the Philippines and China, saw the US President commit to standing in protection of both countries.

“When we stand as one, we’re able to forge a better future for all,” Biden said in the East Room of the White House Thursday.
Japan and the Philippines both have separate territorial disputes with China, in the former’s case the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea and in the latter’s areas of the South China Sea.
CNN reported that Philippines-China tensions have focused on Second Thomas Shoal, which sits about 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the coast of the Philippine island of Palawan.

In the 1990s, the Philippines grounded an aging World War II-era navy transport ship on the shoal, to help enforce its claim to the area. The ship is now mostly a rusted wreckage and is manned by Filipino marines stationed on rotation.
Meanwhile, China claims the shoal, which is in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, as its sovereign territory, as it does much of the South China Sea, in defiance of an international arbitration ruling. Recent clashes have occurred when Philippine attempts to resupply the forces on the ship have been met by China Coast Guard ships firing water cannons at the Philippine resupply boats, resulting in injuries to Filipino sailors and damage to the vessels.

Referencing the Filipino-Chinese tensions, Biden said on Thursday that “any attack on Philippine aircraft, vessels or armed forces in the South China Sea would invoke our mutual defense treaty.”
The 1951 mutual defense treaty between the US and the Philippines – the oldest such US pact in the Asia-Pacific–stipulates both sides would help defend each other if either were attacked by a third party.
Thursday’s meeting marks the latest attempt by the administration to grapple with that sort of Chinese aggression, and a senior administration official said ahead of the meeting that the White House is very concerned by China’s actions in the South China Sea, CNN reported.

“What you’ll see is a clear demonstration of support and resolve from both President Biden and Prime Minister Kishida that we stand shoulder to shoulder with Marcos ready to support and work with the Philippines at every turn,” one official said ahead of Thursday’s meeting. (ANI)

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