Biden to Host Summit With Japan’s Kishida and Philippines’ Marcos

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Biden to Host Summit With Japan’s Kishida and Philippines’ Marcos

The trilateral summit, which will be held in Washington on April 11, comes at a time of increasing tension in the western Pacific.

Biden to Host Summit With Japan’s Kishida and Philippines’ Marcos
Credit: Depositphotos

U.S. President Joe Biden will host Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for a summit in Washington on April 11, the White House has announced.

In a statement to the press yesterday, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said that leaders “will discuss trilateral cooperation to promote inclusive economic growth and emerging technologies, advance clean energy supply chains and climate cooperation, and further peace and security in the Indo-Pacific and around the world.” She added that the three leaders “will also reaffirm the ironclad alliances between the United States and the Philippines, and the United States and Japan.”

Biden will also take the opportunity to meet for a one-on-one meeting with Marcos, during which the two leaders will “review the historic momentum in U.S.-Philippines relations.” Jean-Pierre added that Biden will “reaffirm the ironclad alliance between the United States and the Philippines and emphasize U.S. commitment to upholding international law and promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The summit, the first trilateral meeting between the three nations, will take place in Washington a day after Biden’s meeting with Kishida, who will attend a state dinner in his honor hosted by the U.S. president.

While the summit seems set to address a range of issues, it comes against a backdrop of tension in the South China Sea, where China is making increasingly frequent and forceful incursions into waters claimed by the Philippines. These have resulted in a series of dangerous high-seas encounters, including, most recently, the China Coast Guard (CCG)’s ramming of a Philippine Coast Guard vessel. Four Philippine navy personnel were also injured when the CCG fired high-pressure water cannons at one of the supply vessels, smashing its windshield.

The incident and others like it took place close to Second Thomas Shoal, a Philippine-occupied feature in the Spratly Islands, around which China has erected an informal blockage, harassing Philippine attempts to resupply its unit of marines stationed at the shoal.

The trilateral summit was flagged by Marcos and other Philippine officials earlier this week, in connection with today’s visit of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Manila. Security cooperation is expected to be high on the agenda during Blinken’s meeting with Marcos, and it is likely to involve preparatory talks for the Summit with Biden and Kishida next month. Speaking in Berlin, the Philippine leader said that the intention of the meeting with Blinken “is to continue the plan to strengthen the cooperation between the three countries – the United States, Japan, and the Philippines.”

Whatever form it takes, promoting trilateral cooperation makes great sense for the Biden administration. The Philippines and Japan are perhaps the two most reliable U.S. partners in the western Pacific, with the possible addition of Australia. They share both its concerns about China’s growing maritime clout and the principle of the “free and open Indo-Pacific” advanced by the past two U.S. administrations. Both Washington and Tokyo have also enhanced their security and maritime cooperation with Manila over the past 18 months, as it has come under increasing Chinese pressure in the South China Sea.

Next month’s summit offers a signal that this cooperation will likely only deepen in the months and years to come.