US, Japan, and Philippines to Launch Joint Patrols in South China Sea

The plan will be announced next month at the first-ever trilateral summit between the leaders of the US, Japan, and the Philippines

The US, Japan, and the Philippines will launch joint patrols in the South China Sea later this year in a move sure to escalate tensions with China, POLITICO reported on Friday.

The joint patrols will be announced in April when President Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and Philippine President Ferdinand Marco Jr. hold their first-ever trilateral summit.

The US has been bolstering its alliances with Tokyo and Manila as part of its preparations in the region for a future war with China and has also been encouraging the two countries to increase their joint cooperation. Last year, the three countries held their first trilateral maritime exercise in the South China Sea.

The increase in cooperation in the South China Sea comes as the Chinese and Philippine coast guards frequently have tense encounters near disputed rocks and reefs. In the most recent incident, a Chinese vessel fired a water cannon at a Philippine supply boat, injuring several crew members.

Map shows the overlapping claims in the South China Sea

The US has repeatedly told China that the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty applies to attacks on Philippine vessels in the South China Sea, meaning the US is threatening to intervene if the dispute turns into a shooting war. The US support has emboldened Marcos to push back on China’s claims but has not deterred Beijing.

Sources told POLITICO that the White House is also expected to announce that it will “seriously consider” making Japan a partner in some aspects of AUKUS, a military pact between the US, Australia, and Britain that focuses on technology sharing.

Financial Times has reported that the US and Japan will announce the most significant restructuring of their military alliance since the 1960s when Biden hosts Kishida at the White House on April 10. The trilateral summit is scheduled to be held on April 11.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.