By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — Reiterating its call to the People’s Republic of China (PRoC) to abide by its obligations under international law and cease its provocative behavior towards neighboring countries in Asia, the United States (US) has affirmed its commitment to defend the Philippines if any of its troops, public vessels, or aircraft are attacked in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) or South China Sea (SCS).
“We reaffirm that an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke US mutual defense commitments under Article 4 of the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty,” United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken pointed out even as he assured that Washington will firmly support the 2016 The Hague ruling in favor of the Philippines.
Six years ago in July, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruled in favor of the Philippines as it declared the so-called China’s ‘nine-dashed line’ national boundary having no legal basis to claim historic rights to almost all resources in the SCS.
“Six years ago, an Arbitral Tribunal constituted under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention delivered a unanimous decision, which is final and binding on the Philippines and the PRC (People’s Republic of China),” Blinken cited.
The Washington official likewise noted that in its ruling, the Tribunal “firmly rejected the PRoC’s expansive South China Sea maritime claims as having no basis under international law,” and in addition even stated that Beijing has no lawful claim to the areas determined by the Arbitral Tribunal to be part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf. (ai/mtvn)