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Biden warns about Beijing’s moves in South China Sea during Philippines-Japan summit – Reuters News



Biden warns about Beijing's moves in South China Sea during Philippines-Japan summit - Reuters News

WASHINGTON — Longstanding tensions between China and its neighbors took center stage Thursday as the leaders of the U.S., Japan and the Philippines met at the White House to push back on Beijing’s stepped-up pressure on Manila in the disputed South China Sea.

US President Joe Biden’s administration is expected to announce new joint military efforts and infrastructure spending in the former US colony, as he joins Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in meeting with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Washington for a first trilateral summit of its kind.

At the top of the meeting agenda is The increasing pressure from China in the South China Sea, which has escalated despite that a personal call by Mr Biden last year to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Philippines and China had several maritime clashes last month involving the use of water cannons and heated verbal exchanges. The disputes center on the Second Thomas Shoal, home to a small number of Philippine troops stationed on a warship that Manila grounded there in 1999 to bolster its claims of sovereignty.

Launching the White House meeting with the three leaders, Biden confirmed that a 1950s mutual defense treaty binding Washington and Manila would require the US to respond to an armed attack on the Philippines in southern China Sea.

“The United States’ defense commitments to Japan and the Philippines are ironclad,” he said.

Mr. Marcos successfully pushed Washington to do so resolve long-standing ambiguity on the treaty by specifying that it would apply to disputes in that sea.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, including the maritime economic zones of neighboring countries. The Second Thomas Shoal is located within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone. A 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration found that China’s far-reaching claims have no legal basis.

Japan has a dispute with China over islands in the country the East China Sea.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said that “China’s activities in the East China Sea and the South China Sea are fully in accordance with international law” and that they were willing to resolve issues through “dialogue and consultation,” but criticized both the US and Japan for escalating tensions. .

The US is planning a joint Coast Guard patrol in the Indo-Pacific region in the coming year, as well as joint maritime training activities. Washington will also place “humanitarian supplies for Philippine civilian disaster relief” at Philippine military bases, a senior Biden administration official said.

More joint patrols The South China Sea can be expected in the coming months following exercises by the United States, Australia, the Philippines and Japan last weekend, another US official said.

The measures come after two prominent US senators on Wednesday introduced a bipartisan bill to give Manila $2.5 billion to strengthen its defenses against Chinese pressure.

“China’s usual tactic is to try to isolate the target of its pressure campaigns, but the trilateral scheme of April 11 clearly indicates that the Philippines is not alone,” said Daniel Russel, who under former President Barack Obama was the top U.S. was a diplomat for East Asia. .

Leaders will also discuss broader regional challenges and economic development, with new investments in submarine cables, logistics, clean energy and telecommunications. Facebook parent company Meta and UPS are among the companies announcing deals related to the visit.

A new air missile defense network announced Wednesday involving Japan and Australia and targeting the Indo-Pacific region is “probably a few years away,” one of the officials said.

Biden’s Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment will support a new Luzon corridor effort in the Philippines, focused on infrastructure projects including ports, railways, clean energy and semiconductor supply chains. – Reuters