The Philippines said U.S. President Joe Biden’s government vowed that America would help the Southeast Asian nation if there was an armed attack in the South China Sea, repeating an earlier pledge made by former President Donald Trump’s administration.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin in a call the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty between the two nations “will apply to armed attacks against the Philippines,” Manila’s envoy to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez said at a virtual forum organized by the foreign correspondents’ association.
The U.S. State Department, in a separate statement Wednesday, said Blinken spoke with Locsin about the treaty’s application “to armed attacks against the Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific, which includes the South China Sea.”
The reassurance comes amid Beijing’s continued assertion of its South China Sea claims which overlap with those of Manila and other nations in the region. China recently passed a law giving its coast guard more freedom to fire on foreign vessels, a move that could raise the risk of miscalculation in disputed waters and which the Philippines protested.