An armed attack against the Philippines “will trigger our obligations under the Mutual Defense Treaty,” said the U.S. State Department.
China made headlines last month after more than 220 Chinese militia vessels were spotted at Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea. This has since prompted Philippine National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to issue a statement, accusing China of incursion.
Although China initially defended that the “fishing boats” only took shelter there because of harsh weather conditions, a statement by the spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines eventually fired back, claiming “The Niu’e Jiao is part of China’s Nansha Islands. The waters around Niu’e Jiao has been a traditional fishing ground for Chinese fishermen for many years.”
According to reports, four warships and several warplanes were sent by the Philippines to the West Philippine Sea.
Additionally, the U.S. Navy has also deployed the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, along with amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island.
The U.S. State Department has also declared:
“An armed attack against the Philippines armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific, including in the South China Sea, will trigger our obligations under the Mutual Defense Treaty.”
As a result, the 220 Chinese vessels has since decreased to lesser than 10, reports say.
As retired U.S. Navy officer and ‘To Provide and Maintain a Navy’ author Jerry Hendrix put it in an interview:
“The Chinese have blinked… (They) were surprised by the extent to which their maneuver by their naval militia engendered cooperation and mutual support between the United States, its treaty partners and others in the region. In the end, China realized that its continued presence was simply going to strengthen the resistance.”
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