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US renews commitment to defend Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — The United States has reiterated its support for the Philippines in the wake of China’s “dangerous and unlawful actions” in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal on Sunday, renewing a commitment to defend its treaty ally in case of an armed attack in the South China Sea.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan gave the assurance in a telephone call to his Philippine counterpart Eduardo Año yesterday.

“Mr. Sullivan reiterated US support for our Philippine allies following the PRC Coast Guard and maritime militia’s dangerous and unlawful actions on Oct. 22 obstructing a routine Philippine resupply to Second Thomas Shoal,” a White House statement declared.

In their phone conversation, Sullivan and Año reaffirmed the enduring alliance and friendship between the two nations and discussed upcoming US-Philippine engagements and ways to further strengthen close partnership.

Sullivan emphasized the ironclad US alliance commitment to the Philippines under the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty, which extends to armed attacks on Philippine public vessels, aircraft and armed forces – to include those of its Coast Guard – in the Pacific, including in the South China Sea.

Washington slammed China’s “dangerous, unlawful and provocative” actions in Ayungin Shoal, which jeopardized Filipino crewmembers’ safety.

“The United States stands with our Philippine allies in the face of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Coast Guard and maritime militia’s dangerous and unlawful actions obstructing an Oct. 22 Philippine resupply mission to Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea,” the Office of the Spokesperson of the US State Department said in a statement.

It said the Chinese vessels’ dangerous maneuvers “violated international law by intentionally interfering with the Philippine vessels’ exercise of high seas freedom of navigation.”

The State Department said China prevented the Filipinos from delivering critically needed supplies to troops stationed on the BRP Sierra Madre.

Obstructing supply lines to this longstanding outpost and interfering with lawful Philippine maritime operations, it said, undermines regional stability.

The State Department stressed that