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Biden Offers ‘Ironclad’ Commitments To Japan, Philippines To Defend Them In South China Sea

President Biden has offered an “ironclad” commitment that the US would support the Philippines and Japan from any attack in the South China Sea. Biden said this at a joint summit with Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos and Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida.

“The United States’ defence commitments to Japan and to the Philippines are ironclad,” the US president said on Thursday. The statement comes after growing tensions between Beijing and Manila in the South China Sea.

“Any attack on Philippine aircraft, vessels or armed forces in the South China Sea would invoke our mutual defence treaty,” said Biden.

China has been accused of firing water cannons at vessels, ramming into Philippine ships near the Second Thomas Shoal, near the Spratly Islands. Both China and the Philippines claim these islands as their own.

China has continuously denounced the US for getting involved in what it sees as its internal affairs. Last year in October, Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said that the “U.S. is not party to the South China Sea issue, it has no right to get involved in a problem between China and the Philippines.”

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Regarding Japan, Biden has also upgraded the security alliance with the country during Japanese Prime Minister Kishida’s visit to the country. “Through our partnership, we have strengthened the alliance. We have expanded our work together. We’ve raised our shared ambitions,” Biden said in his opening remarks at a joint news conference in the White House Rose Garden. “And now the US-Japan alliance is a beacon to the entire world.”

The Japanese leader has been cautious about what Tokyo views as increasing aggression by Beijing which has contributed to an increased defence spending by Japan.  He has also been a key player in establishing security alliances under the Quad.

The Japanese PM also addressed the US Congress where he urged Americans not to doubt the country’s “indispensable” role in world affairs. He added that Tokyo was undertaking historic military upgrades to support its ally.

(With inputs from Reuters)