Philippines, US, Japan hit sea,economic coercion

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Philippines, US, Japan hit sea,economic coercion
President Marcos, US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida walk together to a trilateral meeting at the White House in Washington yesterday. Inset shows the US and Philippine leaders at a bilateral meeting, emphasizing their joint commitment to promote mutual interests and regional stability.

WASHINGTON — The Philippines, Japan and the US yesterday displayed solidarity against China’s “aggressive,” “dangerous” and “destabilizing” behavior in the South China Sea following a historic trilateral summit seen as the start of a deeper cooperation among the three Indo-Pacific maritime countries.

In a joint statement, President Marcos, US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida chided China for its “militarization” of reclaimed features, unlawful maritime claims, “dangerous” and “coercive” use of coast guard and maritime militia ships and efforts to prevent other countries from exploiting their offshore resources. 

They called on China to abide by the 2016 arbitral ruling upholding the Philippines’ sovereign rights over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), describing it as final and legally binding.

“We express our serious concerns about the People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s dangerous and aggressive behavior in the South China Sea,” the leaders said in a seven-page joint vision statement.  

“We steadfastly oppose the dangerous and coercive use of coast guard and maritime militia vessels in the South China Sea, as well as efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore resource exploitation. We reiterate serious concern over the PRC’s repeated obstruction of Philippine vessels’ exercise of high seas freedom of navigation and the
 disruption of supply lines to Second Thomas (Ayungin) Shoal, which constitute dangerous and destabilizing conduct.”

The three leaders reaffirmed their commitment to freedom of navigation and overflight and highlighted the importance of respecting the sovereign rights of states within their EEZ consistent with international law.

They also announced plans to hold joint drills in the Indo-Pacific as part of their efforts to promote maritime security.

“Following the first-ever joint exercise between our coast guards in 2023, the United States looks forward to welcoming Philippine and Japan Coast Guard members onto a US Coast Guard vessel during a patrol in the Indo-Pacific this year,” their joint statement read. 

“Within the next year, our coast guards also plan to conduct an at-sea trilateral exercise and other maritime activities in the Indo-Pacific to improve interoperability and advance maritime security and safety.”

The three countries and Australia held joint drills within the Philippines’ EEZ this week. China, whose maritime claim covers practically the entire strategic waterway, responded by holding its own maritime exercise.

Marcos, Kishida and Biden also expressed support for the Philippine Coast Guard’s capacity-building through Tokyo’s recent provision of 12 coast guard vessels and plan to provide five more ships to Manila.

They also announced the establishment of a trilateral maritime dialogue to strengthen coordination and collective responses and promote maritime cooperation.

The leaders expressed concern over illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and backed the ability of Filipino and Japanese fisherfolk to pursue their traditional livelihoods.


The trilateral summit also saw the US reaffirming its “ironclad” alliance commitments to the Philippines and Japan, both of which are embroiled in a maritime or territorial dispute with China. 

Biden reiterated that any attack on the Philippines’ aircraft, vessels or military would trigger the Mutual Defense Treaty, a 1951 deal that allows Manila and Washington to jointly develop their capabilities to respond to external armed aggression.

“I want to be clear, the United States... defense commitments to Japan and the Philippines are ironclad. As I’ve said before, any attack on Philippine aircraft, vessels or armed forces in the South China Sea would invoke our mutual defense treaty,” Biden said during the summit.

“When we stand as one, we’re able to forge a better future for all. And that’s what this new trilateral is all about in my view. Building a better future for people crossing the Pacific, and quite frankly beyond around the world.”

Marcos described the Philippines, Japan and the US as “friends” and “partners” bound by a shared vision and pursuit of a peaceful, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

“It is a partnership, borne not out of convenience nor of expediency, but as a natural progression of a deepening relations and robust cooperation amongst our three nations, linked by a profound respect for democracy, good governance and the rule of law,” he said.

According to Marcos, the first ever trilateral summit was a culmination of several preparatory engagements between the three countries’ officials and the conduct of maritime exercises and joint development cooperation. “But this meeting can be just a beginning,” he said.

“Facing the complex challenges of our time requires concerted efforts on everyone’s part, a dedication to a common purpose and an unwavering commitment to the rules-based international order... Today’s summit is an opportunity to define the future we want, and how we intend to achieve it, together.”

‘Philippines has rights on Ayungin’

The Philippines will not be violating international law if it decides to put up structures in Ayungin Shoal, which is well-within the country’s EEZ, a Filipino analyst said yesterday.

Jeffrey Ordaniel, associate professor of International Security Studies at the Tokyo International University, said the Marcos administration is right in reinforcing the rules-based international order in the West Philippine Sea.

“Second Thomas (Ayungin) Shoal is located within our 200-nautical mile EEZ, meaning we have the exclusive rights to exploit and explore from resources and also the exclusive right to build artificial structures,” Ordaniel told the Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon public briefing.

“So, if the Philippines decides to reinforce that vessel and maybe build a structure on top of it, that’s within our rights under international law,” he said, referring to the BRP Sierra Madre which was grounded at Ayungin Shoal since 1999 and serves as a Navy outpost.


Without specifically mentioning China and the WPS, newly designated Japanese Ambassador Kazuya Endo has assured National Security Adviser Eduardo Año of Japan’s continued partnership with the Philippines.

In their recent meeting, Endo said he will work toward the realization of a peaceful and stable region.

He said he will do so “not only through Japan-Philippines cooperation but also through the trilateral cooperation with the US,” referring to the Japan-US-Philippines Trilateral Summit Meeting.

Año, in response, warmly welcomed Endo and expressed his desire to share wisdom and closely cooperate with each other in the increasingly important field of security. — Michael Punongbayan, Helen Flores

vuukle comment


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with