WASHINGTON, April 12 (KUNA) -- The leaders of the United States, Japan, and the Philippines convened for a trilateral summit on Thursday in Washington, focusing on the "dangerous and aggressive behavior" by Beijing in the South China Sea.
According to a joint statement released after the summit, the summit is a culmination of decades of partnership and builds on the recent momentum of trilateral efforts.
President Joe Biden, along with his Filipino counterpart Ferdinand Marcos and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, expressed "grave concern over the dangerous and aggressive behavior of China in the South China Sea. We are also concerned about the militarization of reclaimed features and unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea." The leaders affirmed their steadfast opposition to the use of coast guard ships and maritime militia in the South China Sea, as well as efforts to impede the exploitation of maritime resources by other countries.
They reiterated their serious concerns about China's repeated obstruction of Philippine vessels' freedom of navigation and interference with the supply lines to Scarborough Shoal (a disputed area under Philippine jurisdiction).
On the other hand, the leaders expressed "serious concerns about the situation in the East China Sea" and reiterated strong opposition to any attempts by China to change the status quo through force in the East China Sea, including actions seeking to undermine Japan's longstanding position and peaceful administration of the Senkaku Islands.
In the summit, the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as an indispensable element for global security and prosperity was emphasized, reaffirming unwavering positions on Taiwan and calling for a peaceful resolution to issues across the strait.
They stated their commitment to a free, open, interconnected, prosperous, secure, comprehensive, and flexible Indian-Pacific region, welcoming coordination and cooperation with a wide range of partners who share these goals.
Ahead of this summit, President Biden held a bilateral meeting with President Marcos, welcoming "unprecedented momentum in US-Philippines relations and reviewing new initiatives to enhance economic security, energy security, maritime cooperation, and investment in critical infrastructure," according to a statement issued by the White House.
The statement noted that the presidents reaffirmed their commitment to international law in the South China Sea, an area of tensions where the United States alleges that China engages in "intimidation" against Washington's regional allies.
Biden reiterated the strong commitment of the US alliance to the Philippines under the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty, which extends to (defending against) armed attacks on the Armed Forces of the Philippines or public vessels or aircraft, including Coast Guard forces in the Pacific Ocean, including anywhere in the South China Sea.
This marks the second visit by the Filipino president to Washington in two years and the seventh time he has met with the U.S. president or vice president, according to a senior US official speaking to reporters on the eve of the meeting.
Earlier, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida addressed a joint session of the US Congress, stating that "our world is at a historic turning point. The post-Cold War era is already behind us, and we are now at an inflection point that will define the next stage of human history." Kishida said that China's current military actions pose an unprecedented strategic challenge, not only to the peace and security of Japan but also to the peace and stability of the international community as a whole.
He added, "While such a challenge from China continues, our commitment to upholding a free and open international order based on the rule of law, as well as peace, will continue to be the defining agenda going forward." The Japanese prime minister, who received a warm reception and extensive applause from members of Congress, stopped at the "imminent danger of nuclear proliferation in East Asia," noting that "North Korea's nuclear and missile program is a direct threat." Kishida observed that "North Korea's provocations have impact beyond the region. It has also exported its ballistic missiles to support Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, greatly increasing the suffering of the Ukrainian people." He pointed out that Russia continues to threaten the use of nuclear weapons, which has contributed to worldwide concern about the possibility of another catastrophe (referring to Hiroshima) as a result of the use of nuclear weapons.
He emphasized that "In this reality, close coordination between Japan and the US is required more than ever to ensure that the deterrence our Alliance provides remains credible and resilient." The US and Japan announced at the end of Kishida's visit to Washington two days ago the launch of a new strategy for joint security and defense cooperation to preserve security and stability in the Indian-Pacific region.
This trilateral summit followed a series of high-level trilateral meetings between the US, Japan, and the Philippines to enhance shared agenda on economic security, development, humanitarian assistance, maritime security, and defense. (end) asj.dss