WASHINGTON, D.C. The United States has again warned China that an attack on Philippine forces in the South China Sea would trigger actions based upon a 1951 U.S.-Philippines mutual defense treaty.
In a written statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken made the treaty comment in reference to China’s vast territorial claims in the South China Sea.
China claims most of the South China Sea, which is also contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, reiterating on Friday that Beijing did not accept the ruling.
“The United States reaffirms its July 13, 2020 policy regarding maritime claims in the South China Sea,” Blinken said. On that date, former President Donald Trump’s administration rejected China’s claims to offshore resources in most of the South China Sea.
“We also reaffirm that an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty,” Blinken added.
That treaty notes that “each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific area on either of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.”
Blinken has spoken of the treaty before, including on April 8 while talking with the Philippine foreign minister, in which the State Department said Blainken “reaffirmed the applicability” of the treaty to the South China Sea.