US-Japan-Philippines Trilateral Gives Manila A Fighting Chance

(MENAFN- Asia Times) In an unprecedented move with big regional implications, US President Joe Biden hosted a trilateral summit with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio.

According to the
post-summit joint statement , this first-ever trilateral discussed cooperation in economic growth, emerging technologies, clean energy, supply chains, climate cooperation and, most importantly, strengthening the existing alliances between the US and its two Asian security partners.

Alongside the leaders' meeting, the first trilateral commerce and industry ministers' meeting was also held and seems to have focussed on US-Japan support for making the Philippines an upper middle-income country and combatting China's economic coercion.

The summit should be seen in the context of China's increasingly hostile behavior and gray zone tactics in the South China Sea and the incessant maritime harassment the Philippines is facing from the Peoples' Liberation Army-Navy and its maritime militia.

The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force's first-ever participation in the recent US-Philippines exercise in the South China Sea is also consistent with the trilateral summit's announcement.

The US-Japan-Philippines trilateral is part of the emerging trend of
minilateral arrangements in the Indo-Pacific region that have emerged over the past decade.

These include the Quad (launched in 2007, revived in 2017), AUKUS (Australia, UK, US) trilateral (2021), Colombo Security Conclave, (initiated in 2011; revived in 2020), TDIO (Trilateral Dialogue on the Indian Ocean, 2013), India-France-Australia Trilateral Dialogue (2021), JAI (Japan-Australia-India trilateral, 2015), the 2004 Malacca Straits Patrol (2008), and Eye-in-the-Sky, among others.

What makes this trilateral particularly noteworthy is that it brings together the US (a super power), Japan (a regional power) and the Philippines (a small power) together. This bucks the trend of other minilaterals that to date have focussed either on maintaining regional security equilibrium, acting as a security provider or establishing an issues-based localized presence.


Asia Times

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