President Joe Biden reaffirmed the United States' "ironclad" commitment to the defense of the Philippines in his first bilateral meeting with the country's new leader, as he seeks to bolster the U.S.–Philippine alliance.
Biden on Thursday met with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Marcos, the son and namesake of the late Philippine dictator, took office on June 30.
They also discussed expanding bilateral cooperation in energy security, climate action, and infrastructure. Biden commended the Philippines for condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Marcos expressed his intention to strengthen the U.S.–Philippines alliance, noting that his country valued the United States' role in maintaining peace in the region.
"The 100-plus-year-old relationship between the Philippines and the U.S. continues to evolve as we face the challenges of this new century and the events that we have been watching over the past few months," Marcos said.
China has increased its influence in the South China Sea through its artificial islands and military buildup. The Chinese communist regime claims the majority of the South China Sea under its so-called “nine-dash line” despite competing claims with other nations.
Philippine Protests Against ChinaMarcos had previously vowed to uphold The Hague's 2016 ruling in favor of the Philippines in the South China Sea dispute, saying that he will not allow China to encroach on "a single square millimeter of our maritime coastal."
Philippine Defense Undersecretary Angelito de Leon said on Sept. 8 that Chinese vessels continue to swarm Philippine waters despite the protests, prompting the national coast guard to bolster maritime domain awareness and patrols.
The Philippines and United States are allies under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, which dictates that the United States and the Philippines will defend each other if either is attacked.
“We stand by our ally, the Philippines, in defending its rights and in opposing the PRC’s provocations and intimidation,” Blinken said, using the acronym for China’s formal name, the People’s Republic of China.