Territories in the South China Sea are claimed by an array of countries, including China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam. The US has no claims to the area, but it regularly sends its warships to the region for so-called “freedom of navigation” missions.
US President Joe Biden’s government has pledged that Washington will help Manila in case of an armed attack in the South China Sea, the Philippines’ Ambassador to America Jose Manuel Romualdez said during a virtual press conference on Friday.
The envoy’s remarks came a few days after the US State Department, in a separate statement Wednesday, said Blinken spoke with Locsin about the treaty’s application “to armed attacks against the Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific, which includes the South China Sea”.
The statement followed Locsin’s pledge last year to invoke Manila’s defence agreement with Washington if Beijing moves to attack Philippine vessels in the area. He also made it clear that Manila would go ahead with its air patrols over the area despite China’s rejection of such flyovers as “illegal provocations”.
In June 2020, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expressed concern over Beijing’s increasing activity in the area, calling on parties “to refrain from escalating tensions and abide by responsibilities under international law”.
In a separate development that month, the Philippines announced the reversal of its previous decision to terminate the Visiting…