American President Joe Biden and his Philippine counterpart Mr. Marcos Jr met on 1st May at the White House, where both agreed on greater military coordination amid rising tension in Asian Region. The meeting was held after the US and Philippines officials decided to strengthen their relations, which were fouled in the reign of Rodrigo Duterte, Marcos Jr’s Predecessor. US officials said both leaders have agreed to set new guidelines for strengthening the arms cooperation between America and the Philippines.
President Marcos’ US visit is the Philippines’ first Presidential trip in more than ten years. His visit is also important as the Biden administration wants to counter China’s growing influence in the Asian Pacific. President of the White House said Marcos Jr had once visited the United States with his father, Ferdinand Marcos Sr, a former Philippines leader. He further stated that he welcomes the Manila leader back, and it’s been some time since the last visit. Mr. Biden pledged to support Manila in modernizing its armies.
President Marcos stated that the Philippines has been facing the world’s most challenging conditions after recent developments. He said Manila is now looking at its most trusted partner in the region for its support in strengthening the defense and its role during rising tensions in the South China Sea and the Asia Pacific. In the joint statement released after the meeting, both leaders appreciated the historical rise in the US-Philippines relations and pledged to continue engagements in common concern issues.
Before the meeting, a US official stated that the visit would be the first of its kind as the Washington-Manila relations have gained momentum. Marcos Jr is attempting to maintain a balance between his country’s connections with the US and China, as both superpowers compete for influence in the Asia-Pacific area. Marcos’ intentions contrast with Duterte’s, the former Philippines President’s strategies which aimed to prioritize relations with Beijing.
China is still Manila’s most prominent business partner, and President Marcos Jr was on a trip to China in January this year. Still, the increasing influence of Beijing in almost all of the South China Sea has raised concerns for the Philippines. Marcos talked to reporters before departure to the US and said they would not allow the Philippines territory to be used for any military action. He signaled as he was worried about being trapped between two superpowers US and China. On the other hand, Washington sees Manila as a point to counter any possible aggression of China against Taiwan, as Beijing claims Taiwan as Chinese territory.
American President has scheduled a visit to Japan this month, where he will attend a meeting of the Group of Seven (G7). Then he will head to Australia for a Quad Summit with Japan, Australia, and India. Both sessions are highly expected to focus on China. Officials from the Biden administration talked to reporters and said the recent steps from Beijing might push Manila closer to the United States.
US-Philippines Military agreements
Previously Manila had agreed to provide access to four military bases to the United States and called the action the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. Both countries have practiced their largest military maneuvers in recent weeks. After the new agreement between Biden and Marcos Jr, America will provide three C-130 cargo aircraft to the Philippines, and additional patrol vessels will also be sent.
According to a statement by the White House, the US and the Philippines will establish defense guidelines to strengthen their alliance cooperation and interoperability across various domains, including land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace. By following these guidelines, important bilateral emphases, mechanisms, and processes will become an established part of their institution.