The President of the Philippines met with Joe Biden over growing concerns with China.
On May 1, President Joe Biden will welcome President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Philippines for talks at the White House as worries over Chinese navy harassment of Philippine ships in the South China Sea mount.
After finishing their largest war games ever last week, the United States and the Philippines will hold the inaugural joint fighter aircraft operations in the Philippines since 1990 on Monday. This will coincide with Mr. Marcos’ visit to Washington. In an effort to discourage China from acting more aggressively towards Taiwan and in the “South China Sea region” that is under dispute, the Philippines this year decided to grant the U.S. access to four more bases on the islands.
At the same time, China has enraged the Philippines by frequently obstructing its navy and coastguard inspections and frightening away fishermen in waters near Philippine coasts that Beijing claims as its own.
The Oval Office meeting on Monday is the latest instance of Mr. Biden’s high-level engagement with Pacific leaders as his government deals with China’s escalating military and economic aggressiveness and concerns over North Korea’s nuclear programme. The official visit by Mr. Marcos to Washington is the country’s first by the leader in more than a decade.
The person, who requested anonymity to discuss the upcoming visit, said that the Biden administration is seeking to revive “habits of alliance building” with the Philippines as some facets of their long-standing difficult relationship have atrophied over time.
Another aspect of the visit has been the increased Chinese harassment of ships in the South China Sea. A Chinese coast guard ship barred the Philippine patrol ship from entering the contentious shoal on April 23 as journalists from the Associated Press and other media organisations were on board the “Philippine Coast Guard’s BRP Malapascua.” More than 200 diplomatic protests have been lodged by the Philippines against China since last year, including at least 77 after the June election of Mr. Marcos.
The U.S. president acknowledged the two nations’ occasionally “rocky” history during their September meeting at the U.N. General Assembly.
According to the senior administration official, during their personal discussion, Mr. Biden emphasised to Mr. Marcos his intention to strengthen ties and asked Mr. Marcos how the government could “fulfil your desires and hopes” for that.
During the visit, Mr. Marcos is also expected to speak at a Washington think tank, visit the Pentagon, and meet with business and Cabinet officials.