United States vows Philippines aid against "armed attack" in China-claimed sea

US vows Philippines aid if attacked in China-claimed sea

US vows Philippines aid if attacked in China-claimed sea

The Philippines and the United States reaffirmed their friendship and alliance during the meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Thursday night.

"As the South China Sea is part of the Pacific, any armed attack of Philippine forces, aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger mutual defence obligations under Article 4 of our Mutual Defence Treaty", Pompeo warned.

Pompeo is the first U.S. official to openly affirm the US's military commitment to defending Philippine sovereignty over the South China Sea.

Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has been seeking a review of the treaty, which was agreed five years after the Philippines gained independence from the United States in 1946, with the aim of clarifying the extent to which the United States will defend the Philippines should it come under attack.

This map shows the overlapping areas of the South China Sea disputed by several neighbours on the eastern side of the Pacific Ocean.

Senior Duterte officials have called for a review of the mutual defence pact with the USA because they were unsure whether it applied to the South China Sea row.

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The Philippines, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia have competing claims of sovereignty in the waterway, a conduit for in excess of £2.5trillion ($3.4 trillion) of goods carried annually on commercial vessels. U.S. Navy ships have sailed close to Chinese-occupied islands to assert freedom of navigation, provoking angry protests from China and tense moments between the rival naval forces.

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"China and the countries around the South China Sea are working hard to protect peace and stability in the region", said Kang.

Duterte, who took office in 2016, has revived once-frigid ties with China and sought Chinese infrastructure funding and trade and investment.

He threatened a split with the United States and called then President Barack Obama a "son of a whore".

Duterte has specially been furious over Western criticism of his crackdown on illegal drugs that has claimed the lives of thousands of mostly poor drug suspects.

Locsin on Friday downplayed the Philippine government's suggestions for a review of the defense pact, saying in its "vagueness lies the best deterrence".

President Duterte is optimistic that the country's relations with the United States could be "stronger and more meaningful" following a meeting with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.

He also said allies should be wary of risks of using Chinese technology.

"We want to make sure that the world has their eyes wide open as to the risk of having that technology be part of the infrastructure, or backbone, or networks that are transiting communications here and around the world", he said.

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