“We are confronted with novel challenges, and I cannot think of a better ally than you,” President Joe Biden said to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. amidst the ongoing stand-off in the South China Sea.
Expressing unwavering confidence in the partnership between the two nations, Biden emphasized the United State’s steadfast commitment to defend the Philippines.
Furthermore, he pledged continuous support for the modernization goals of the Philippine military.
The Indestructible Friendship of the US and the Philippines
During their meeting, Biden reiterated the unwavering dedication of the United States to ensuring the security of the Philippines, emphasizing the enduring bond between the two nations.
The discussion took place against the backdrop of mounting concerns over the Chinese Navy’s harassment of Philippine vessels in the South China Sea.
President Biden highlighted the strides made in the US-Philippine relationship, which has enjoyed both favorable and challenging moments over the years. He specifically recognized the challenging circumstances inherited by President Marcos Jr, who assumed office less than a year ago.
Biden acknowledges the contribution of Filipino-Americans
Biden also underscored the profound friendship shared between the two countries, acknowledging the substantial contributions made by millions of Filipino Americans.
On the other hand, President Marcos acknowledged the critical importance of the relationship between the Philippines and the United States, particularly given the highly complex geopolitical situation in the Pacific region.
He remarked, “Given the escalating tensions we witness now, it is only natural for the Philippines to turn to its sole treaty partner in the world to strengthen and redefine our relationship and the roles we play.”
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Strengthening defense capabilities and fostering bilateral cooperation
In the wake of the meeting, the White House announced the transfer of assets to the Philippines. Notably, three C-130 aircraft and two coastal patrol vessels will be provided to enhance the defensive capabilities of the Philippines.
Additionally, both countries have adopted defense guidelines to promote collaboration and interoperability across various domains, including land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace.
Biden admin announces new trade mission
Alongside the defense agreements, the Biden administration introduced a new trade mission focusing on bolstering American investment in the Philippines’ innovation economy and implementing new educational programs.
President Marcos’ visit to Washington coincided with the successful completion of the largest-ever joint military exercises between the US and the Philippines.
Furthermore, the two countries air forces are set to conduct joint fighter jet training in the Philippines for the first time since 1990. Recognizing the need to counter China’s escalating actions, the Philippines granted the US access to four additional bases on its islands.
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China’s Ongoing Harassment Intensifies Tensions in the South China Sea
Amid these developments, tensions have continued to rise due to China’s continuous harassment of the Philippines. The Chinese navy and coast guard have repeatedly confronted Philippine naval vessels and chased away fishing boats in waters claimed by Beijing but near Philippine shores.
President Biden’s engagement with Pacific leaders, including President Marcos, reflects the United States’ commitment to addressing China’s increasing military and economic assertiveness and concerns regarding North Korea’s nuclear program.
This visit marks the first official visit by a Philippine president to Washington in over a decade, underscoring its significance.
Just days ago, on April 23, journalists aboard the Philippine coast guard’s BRP Malapascua witnessed a Chinese coast guard ship blocking their entry into the disputed Second Thomas Shoal.
The Philippines has lodged multiple diplomatic protests against China
The Philippines has lodged over 200 diplomatic protests against China since last year, with at least 77 protests filed since President Marcos assumed office in June, underscoring the persistent nature of China’s harassment and intimidation tactics.
Matthew Miller, a spokesperson for the US State Department, described the incident as a “stark reminder” of Chinese “harassment and intimidation of Philippine vessels as they undertake routine patrols within their exclusive economic zone.”
The United States remains committed to supporting the Philippines in addressing these provocations, further solidifying the importance of the bilateral relationship between the two nations.
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