Biden: Support for Japan, Philippines Is 'Ironclad'

China's actions at sea have caused growing concern
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 11, 2024 6:30 PM CDT
Biden Holds First Summit With Leaders of Japan, Philippines
President Biden, center, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., left, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pose before a trilateral meeting in the East Room of the White House in Washington, on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

President Biden reinforced the US defense commitment to Pacific allies on Thursday as he gathered Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the White House. The meeting took place against a backdrop of growing concern about provocative Chinese military action in the Indo-Pacific, the AP reports, including persistent skirmishes between the Philippine and Chinese coast guards in the disputed South China Sea. The US and the Philippines have had a mutual treaty in place for more than 70 years.

"The United States defense commitments to Japan and to the Philippines are ironclad. They're ironclad," Biden said as the leaders began three-way talks. "As I said before, any attack on Philippine aircraft, vessels, or armed forces in the South China Sea would invoke our mutual defense treaty." Chinese coast guard ships also regularly approach disputed Japanese-controlled East China Sea islands near Taiwan. The "gray-zone" harassment by China has included shining military-grade lasers at the Philippine Coast Guard, firing water cannons at vessels, and ramming Philippine ships near the Second Thomas Shoal, which both Manila and Beijing claim, per the AP.

The White House billed the first-ever trilateral summit with Japan and the Philippines as a potent response to China's attempts at "intimidation" and a message that China is "the outlier in the neighborhood," according to an administration official. On Wednesday, Biden held one-on-one talks with Kishida and feted the Japanese premier with a glitzy state dinner at the White House. Biden also hosted Marcos, the son and namesake of his country's former dictator, for a private meeting at the White House ahead of the three-way talks. "Today's summit is an opportunity to define the future that we want, and how we intend to achieve it together," Marcos said.

(More President Biden stories.)

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