October 27, 2023
MANILA — United States (US) President Joe Biden emphasized his country’s “ironclad” defense commitment to the Philippines following China’s incursion in the West Philippine Sea.
In a press conference on Thursday, Biden briefly expressed US support for the Philippines.
Biden’s statement comes after a Chinese maritime militia on Sunday rammed Philippine navy boats en route for a resupply mission to troops stationed on Ayungin Shoal.
“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 within their own — their own exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea,” said Biden.
“I want to be clear — I want to be very clear: The US defense commitment to the Philippines is ironclad. Any attack on the Filipino aircraft, vessels, or armed forces will invoke our Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, in a separate joint statement issued Thursday, Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it is important for all States to “exercise rights and freedom in a manner consistent with international law.”
“We strongly oppose destabilizing actions in the South China Sea, such as unsafe encounters at sea and in the air, the militarization of disputed features, the dangerous use of coast guard vessels and maritime militia, including interfering with routine Philippines maritime operations around Second Thomas Shoal, and efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore resource exploitation,” said Biden and Albanese.
“We also recognize that the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Award is final and legally binding on the parties in that proceeding, and we are concerned about China’s excessive maritime claims that are inconsistent with international law, as well as unilateral actions that may raise tensions and increase the risk of miscalculation in the region,” they added.