The US Reaffirms Its Duty To Defend The Philippines After A New Clash With China At Sea

( – The United States has defense treaties with many countries around the globe. The agreement between the US and the Philippines is one such example that recently got thrust into the spotlight after recent hostilities between the Philippines and China. America is now reaffirming its stance with the former.

China and the Philippines have engaged in a years-long standoff over the Spratly Islands, a cluster of more than 100 islands and reefs in the South China Sea. The area is surrounded by rich fishing grounds. China has, for years, claimed total ownership of the territory, while Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines have contested these claims. Taiwan also claims the totality of the region.

Things escalated between China and the Philippines on Monday, June 17, when China denied “the Philippines from lawfully delivering humanitarian supplies to service members stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre,” a grounded warship. The Filipino navy has been stationed there for years, since they intentionally ran the ship aground in 1999, to stake a territorial claim after China built upon the Mischief Reef. Its navy has remained there ever since. China has continued building in the area to create what’s known as the “nine-dash-line,” referencing nine lines drawn on a map from 1946, where Beijing claimed ownership of regional territories. These include Taiwan, areas just off the coast of Vietnam, and the beaches of the Philippines.

According to the US Department of State, China’s Coast Guard “harassed Philippine service members being medically evacuated and unlawfully seized airdropped provisions.” It also accused the Asian nation of using “water cannons and dangerous maneuvers” to disrupt routine missions, thus putting the safety of Filipinos at risk while also disregarding international law.

The US made it clear that, per Article IV of the United States-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty signed in 1951, the US is obligated to respond to attacks on Filipinos “anywhere in the South China Sea.”

One expert warns that this is Beijing’s way of testing the waters, including the US’ response time, to determine how it would react should China attack Taiwan.

Copyright 2024,