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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Claim that Biden OK’d Navy’s use of force in South China Sea has NO BASIS

Joe Biden authorized the US Navy to use force in the South China Sea

YouTube channel PH TV 11/02/2023 False

U.S. President Biden won’t hesitate to use force to defend America and its allies, but only as a last resort.

There are no reports that he recently authorized the U.S. Navy to use force in the South China Sea.

A YouTube video claims that United States (U.S.) President Joe Biden authorized its Navy to use force in the South China Sea. This is unsubstantiated.

A channel posted the eight-minute video on Nov. 2 with the false headline: 

Matinding utos ni President Biden | Pinayagan ang US Navy na gumamit ng dahas sa South China Sea (President Biden’s order | The U.S. Navy was allowed to use force in the South China Sea).” 

The publisher did not show proof of its claim. 

VERA Files Fact Check: U.S. President Biden won’t hesitate to use force to defend America and its allies, but only as a last resort. 

There are no reports that he recently authorized the U.S. Navy to use force in the South China Sea.

The narrator of the circulating video claimed the U.S. Department of Defense reported Biden’s “go signal” for the Navy to use force. Not true. There is no such report from the Defense department.

In recent addresses, Biden has said the U.S. commits to “maintaining peace and stability” in the South China Sea, and that it supports “peaceful resolution of disputes… without the threat or use of force” in the area.

In 2021, Biden said he will not hesitate to use force to defend America and its allies, but will only use it as a last resort:

“As your Commander-in-Chief, I will never hesitate to use force to defend the vital interests of the American people and our allies around the world when necessary. The central, indispensable mission of the Department of Defense is to deter aggression from our enemies and, if required, to fight and win wars to keep America safe.

 

But I believe force should be a tool of last resort, not first.”

 

Source: The White House, Remarks by President Biden to Department of Defense Personnel, Feb. 10, 2021

The U.S. president underscored America’s “ironclad” defense commitment to the Philippines after a Chinese Coast Guard ship collided with a Philippine supply boat at Ayungin Shoal in October. “Any attack on Filipino aircraft, vessels, or armed forces will invoke our Mutual Defense Treaty,” he said.

The circulating video, posted by YouTube channel PH TV (created on Nov. 2, 2015), got a total of 76,122 views, 249 comments and 2,300 reactions. It appeared the same day the United States Embassy in Manila called out the Chinese military for tailing a Philippine vessel near Scarborough Shoal.

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(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)