US, Japan & Philippines To Launch Joint Patrols In South China Sea Amid Beijing Tensions

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Apr 01, 2024 - 10:00 PM

The US, Japan, and the Philippines have inked an agreement to launch joint naval patrols in the South China Sea later this year in what's being seen as a major initiative to counter China in the region, and as Chinese and Philippine coast guard boats have recently been engaged in tense stand-offs over disputed waters.

The patrols are expected to be formally announced in April during the first ever trilateral summit of President Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and Philippine President Ferdinand Marco Jr.

Screengrab from video of the Armed Forces of The Philippines

A White House announcement previewing the summit said the three leaders will discuss ways to "further peace and security in the Indo-Pacific."

Japan continues to deepen its military and technological integration with the West with an eye on defense against China. There are new reports that PM Kishida could be invited to upcoming NATO summit set for Washington, DC in July. 

Politico reports of other areas of deepened cooperation with Western allies as follows:

The White House is also expected to announce that it will "seriously consider" having Japan as a technological partner in elements of the "AUKUS" security partnership between the U.S., U.K. and Australia, according to a Defense Department official and another person familiar with the planning, both granted anonymity to speak ahead of an announcement.

In a recent incident, a Chinese vessel injured several crew members aboard a Philippine supply boat when it unleashed water cannon fire on the vessel.

Following this and other incidents, on Sunday Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said, "We warn the Philippines to cease making any statements that may escalate tensions and stop all acts of encroachment."

"If the Philippines continues to challenge China’s bottom line, China will continue to take resolute measures to firmly defend its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests," he continued.

Since coming into power in 2022 Philippine President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has taken a much harder line when it comes to China’s claims to the South China Sea. 

At the same time, Manilla has also been emboldened by the fact that the Pentagon is beefing up its assets both in the Philippines and in regional waters. China has meanwhile been on a years-long campaign to bolster its expansive claims by establishing a series of manmade islands and subsequently militarizing them.

The situation remains highly dangerous given that Washington and Manilla have a military treaty (called the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty). However, Philippine President Marcos told reporters last month, "I do not think that it is a time or the reason to invoke the Mutual Defense Treaty."