Joe Biden said the United States is willing to go to war with China on behalf of the Philippines.
The warmongering statement follows two collisions between Chinese and Filipino vessels in disputed waters of the South China Sea.
“The United States defense agreement with the Philippines is ironclad,” Biden said during a joint press conference at the White House alongside Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, according to the New York Post.
“Any attack on the Filipino aircraft, vessels or armed forces will invoke our mutual defense treaty with the Philippines,” he added.
“Just this past week, the [People’s Republic of China] vessels acted as dangerously and unlawfully as our Philippine friends conducted a routine resupply mission within their own exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea,” he noted.
— New York Post (@nypost) October 25, 2023
Biden is referencing the 1951 mutual defense pact, which says the parties would defend each other in the event of an armed attack.
The 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty states:
Each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific area on either of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.
Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.
For the purpose of Article IV, an armed attack on either of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of either of the Parties, or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific or on its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.
The New York Post reports:
On Sunday, two of Manila’s military ships collided with a Chinese vessel that sought to block them from reaching the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, which is strategically located along important commercial shipping routes but also submerged at high tide.
The Second Thomas Shoal is located much closer to the Philippines than to China and is one of dozens of islands in the South China Sea disputed by China and the governments of nearby countries including Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
Biden has generally taken a more conciliatory approach toward China and in the same Rose Garden remarks reminisced about past travels while vice president with Chinese President Xi Jinping. He said he sought “competition” but that “I’m not looking for conflict” with China.
US President Joe Biden stresses America's commitment to defend the Philippines after Chinese ships collided with Filipino vessels in the West Philippine Sea. Biden's statement comes as one of Washington's biggest aircraft carriers visits Manila. @davidyusantos pic.twitter.com/5JLr1AnBw8
— CNN Philippines (@cnnphilippines) October 27, 2023
The U.S. Department of State issued this statement:
The United States stands with our Philippine allies in the face of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Coast Guard and maritime militia’s dangerous and unlawful actions obstructing an October 22 Philippine resupply mission to Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea.
By conducting dangerous maneuvers that caused collisions with Philippine resupply and Coast Guard ships, the PRC Coast Guard and maritime militia violated international law by intentionally interfering with the Philippine vessels’ exercise of high seas freedom of navigation.
PRC conduct jeopardized Filipino crew members’ safety and impeded critically needed supplies from reaching service members stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre. Obstructing supply lines to this longstanding outpost and interfering with lawful Philippine maritime operations undermines regional stability.
Second Thomas Shoal is a feature well within the Philippine exclusive economic zone and on the Philippine continental shelf. An international tribunal’s July 2016 decision – legally binding on both the Philippines and PRC – made clear that “there exists no legal basis for any entitlement by China to maritime zones in the area of Second Thomas Shoal.” The same ruling affirmed that Second Thomas Shoal is a low-tide elevation outside the territorial sea of another high tide feature – as such, the PRC’s territorial claims to it are unfounded.
The unsafe maneuvers on October 22 and the PRC water cannoning of a Philippines’ vessel on August 5 are the latest examples of provocative PRC measures in the South China Sea to enforce its expansive and unlawful maritime claims, reflecting disregard for other states lawfully operating in the region.
The United States reaffirms that Article IV of the 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty extends to armed attacks on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, and aircraft – including those of its Coast Guard – anywhere in the South China Sea.
“US President Joe Biden said that Chinese ships threatened and took illegal moves against Philippine ships in the South China Sea, and he reaffirmed the US defense commitment to the Philippines. What’s China’s comment on this?” AFP asked China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning.
“The US is not a party to the South China Sea issue and has no right to interfere in the issue between China and the Philippines. The US defense commitment to the Philippines should not undermine China’s sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea, nor should it support the illegal claims of the Philippines,” Ning replied.