(Washington) US President Joe Biden, who is leading an intense diplomatic offensive to stand up to China, receives his Philippine counterpart Ferdinand Marcos on Monday in the hope of sealing the rapprochement between the two countries, particularly on the military level. .
The visit of the Philippine president comes at an “ extraordinarily important ” moment, a senior White House official said at a press conference, praising “ the first meeting at such a level and with such intensity in decades ” .
“ Our commitments to the security of the Philippines are unshakable ”, insisted this senior official, who requested anonymity.
According to him, the Philippines, this former American colony, “seek to be reassured” after “a series of Chinese provocations”.
On April 23, Chinese and Filipino boats nearly collided about 200 km off the Philippine island of Palawan.
This incident, witnessed by an AFP team, is the latest in a long series between the two countries, which dispute the sovereignty of islands in the South China Sea.
The senior American official considered that recent Chinese actions had “worried and probably surprised” Ferdinand Marcos.
The Philippine president had presented himself after his election as a supporter of a balanced relationship with Washington and with Beijing, where he went in January, with the promise that his country would be “ everyone’s friend, enemy belongs to nobody “.
But Washington hopes the surge in tension in the South China Sea will prompt Manila to anchor itself more firmly on its side.
The visit to the White House will be an opportunity, according to the previously cited source, to announce “ a new set of bilateral defense rules ” at sea, in the air and in cyberspace.
The United States also wants to support the “ modernization ” of the Philippine army, by transferring military aircraft and strengthening its war fleet.
The relationship between the Philippines and Washington was particularly shaken during the mandate of the previous Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, a supporter of a rapprochement with China.
But it has taken a new turn recently, under the impetus of an American executive who is determined to strengthen its alliances in Asia and the Pacific zone.
The United States and the Philippines have just completed their largest joint military exercises in the South China Sea, and Manila will allow the US military to use four additional Philippine military bases, including naval facilities located not far from Taiwan.
What irritate China, which considers that this island is part of its territory.
The visit of the Philippine president will also see the United States commit to developing its economic relations with the Philippines – of which China is the first trading partner – in particular in green energies, technological innovation, strategic metals and security. food, according to the senior American official.
Joe Biden had already met in September with the Philippine president, son of dictator Ferdinand Marcos (1965-1986), considered by Washington as an ally during the Cold War.
“We have been through stormy times, but our relationship is, from our point of view, extremely strategic,” he told her during a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Philippines last November.