After a collision between three ships from China and the Philippines in the South China Sea, President Biden has stated that the U.S. will fight on behalf of the Philippines if necessary.
Willing to Defend
“Any attack will invoke our mutual defense treaty with the Philippines.” – On Wednesday U.S. President Joe Biden declared that the U.S. military is willing to defend the Philippines if necessary after a recent maritime collision between the Philippines and China.
The announcement came after an incident occurred near the Second Thomas Shoal, one of a number of disputed islands in the South China Sea.
Two military ships from Manila collided with a Chinese vessel.
The Chinese vessel had attempted to bar the two military ships from reaching the Second Thomas Shoal, which is underwater at high tide but marks the path of an important commercial shipping route.
The Chinese ship, said to be part of China’s maritime militia, was accused of ramming the Philipinne’s naval ships while they were en route to Ayungin Shoal, to send supplies to troops.
The Second Thomas Shoal
Though the Second Thomas Shoal is located closest to the Philippines, its ownership (along with the ownership of other surrounding islands) is heavily disputed amongst the governments of China, the Philippines, and several nearby southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia.
In response to the collision President Biden has spoken out in support of the Philippines, based on the 1951 mutual defense pact which ensures a joint defense between the U.S. and the Philippines against “external armed attack.”
“Just this past week, the [People’s Republic of China’s] vessels acted dangerously and unlawfully as our Philippine friends conducted a routine resupply mission,” Biden said.
“Within their own exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.”
“The United States defense agreement with the Philippines is ironclad,” he continued.
“Any attack on the Filipino aircraft, vessels, or armed forces will invoke our mutual defense treaty with the Philippines.”
White House Press Conference
The official response was held with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, at a press conference at the White House.
Together Albanese and Biden issued a joint statement to the press on the incident, stressing their agreement that all states should “exercise rights and freedom in a manner that is consistent with international law.”
“We strongly oppose destabilizing actions in the South China Sea,” the statement continued.
“Including to interfere with routine Philippines maritime operations around Second Thomas Shoal, and efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore resource exploitation.”
“We are concerned about China’s excessive maritime claims that are inconsistent with international law,” the statement concluded.
“As well as unilateral actions that may raise tensions and increase the risk of miscalculation in the region.”
Change in Approach
Such an unequivocal statement comes as a surprise, as Biden’s approach to the nuclear-armed global power has typically been more measured and conciliatory.
In the past, he had stated that the U.S. government is “not looking for conflict.”
The current president also has past business links to China, with son Hunter and brother James Biden both involved in business dealings with government-linked companies in China.
He has even met with both high-earning ventures in the past.
In the past, he has also been criticized by Republicans for his approach to China-adjacent issues.
In particular, he has not pressed the government further on information surrounding the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, or on the high Fentanyl exports coming out of China to the U.S.
The post Biden Affirms U.S. Commitment to Defend the Philippines in the Event of a Nuclear-Armed China Attack first appeared on Edge Media.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / YASAMIN JAFARI TEHRANI.