US warns China it stands behind South China Sea and is committed to Philippine defense

Roman AhmedWeb Editor

14th Jul, 2021. 01:07 am
US secretary antony blinkin

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken has restated the US’ commitment to defend the Philippines’ armed forces from attack in the South China Sea, under a 70-year-old mutual defense treaty.

Blinken stated marking the fifth anniversary of a ruling by an independent adjudication tribunal refusing China’s extensive regional rights over the waterway, siding with the Philippines.

Whereas, tensions in the South China Sea, which is also disputed by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam have intensified this year, with Manila condemning Beijing of trying to frighten its coast guard containers, as well as sending its so-called “maritime militia” to crowd out Philippine fishing boats.

The US top diplomat said the US could summon the US-Philippine mutual defense pact in the event of any Chinese military act against Philippine assets in the region.

“We also reaffirm that an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke US mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty,” Blinken said.

Blinken called on the Chinese government to “abide by its obligations under international law (and) cease its provocative behavior” in the South China Sea.

Beijing has disowned the tribunal presiding and continued to build up and regimentally strengthen its positions in the South China Sea.

It claims that the US and other countries are accumulating tensions in the district by sending their warships there in defilement of its control.

Washington counters that its naval occurrence in the South China Sea backings freedom of triangulation below the international maritime law.

Underscoring the US stance, the guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold performed freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) near the Paracel Islands in the northwestern part of the South China Sea on Monday, the US Navy’s 7th Fleet said in a statement.

These islands, denoted as the Xisha chain in China, are also demanded by Vietnam and Taiwan, but China has measured them since the 1970s.

US Navy spokesperson Lt. Mark Langford said Monday’s process dared the entitlements by all three parties.

“This freedom of navigation operation … upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging the unlawful restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam and also by challenging China’s claim to strait baselines enclosing the Paracel Islands,” Langford said.

China said it put militaries in place to “warn and drive away” the US destroyer, which it said desecrated its autonomy.


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