October 24, 2023
MANILA – The United States (US) on Monday reaffirmed its sworn defense treaty with the Philippines, standing in support of Filipinos following China’s incursion in the West Philippine Sea.
The US Department of State issued the statement after a Chinese maritime militia on Sunday rammed Philippine navy boats en route for a resupply mission to troops stationed on Ayungin Shoal.
In a statement, the US called China’s actions “dangerous and unlawful.”
“By conducting dangerous maneuvers that caused collisions with Philippine resupply and Coast Guard ships, the People’s Republic of China Coast Guard and maritime militia violated international law by intentionally interfering with the Philippine vessels’ exercise of high seas freedom of navigation,” it said.
“China’s conduct jeopardized Filipino crew members’ safety and impeded critically needed supplies from reaching service members stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre. Obstructing supply lines to this long standing outpost and interfering with lawful Philippine maritime operations undermines regional stability,” it added.
In the same statement, the US reaffirmed the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty, reiterating that it “extends to armed attacks on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, and aircraft anywhere in the South China Sea.”
Echoing the statements of various Philippine government agencies, the US stressed that Ayungin Shoal is a feature that sits well within the Philippine exclusive economic zone.
China’s claim over almost the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, has long been refuted by the arbitral tribunal.
In 2016, the tribunal declared that the Philippines has the exclusive sovereign rights to the West Philippine Sea, disproving China’s assertion.