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US Warns China: Defense Treaty with Philippines Stands Amid South China Sea Tensions

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines was authorized to legitimately supply humanitarian supplies to Filipino troops stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. The United States denounced China for its “irresponsible” conduct.

The US Department of State declared its support for the Philippines in a statement on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) and called the China Coast Guard’s harassment of a Philippine vessel on a resupply mission on June 17 “escalatory.”

The US State Department stated that this event is the most recent in a string of provocations by China to prevent desperately needed supplies from getting to Filipino soldiers stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre.

According to US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller, “Beijing’s actions reflect consistent disregard for the safety of Filipinos and for international law in the South China Sea.”

According to Miller, Washington has reiterated that any armed attack against Philippine armed forces, public boats, or aircraft, including Coast Guard planes, anywhere in the South China Sea is covered by Article IV of the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.

He denounced China for employing “dangerous and deliberate” methods that put the lives of Philippine service men in jeopardy and jeopardized regional peace and stability. These tactics included water cannons, ramming, blocking maneuvers, and towing damaged Philippine vessels.

The PRC (People’s Republic of China) has no legitimate maritime claims to the waters surrounding Second Thomas Shoal, which are unquestionably within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, as per the unanimous ruling of an international tribunal in July 2016, Miller underscored.

“As provided under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, the decision is final and legally binding on the PRC and the Philippines,” he continued.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Philippine government maintains an ongoing presence in the area with the BRP Sierra Madre, a commissioned Philippine naval vessel, permanently stationed in Ayungin Shoal. This move was a reaction to China’s 1995 “illegal occupation” of Mischief Reef, also known as Panganiban Reef.

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