Armed attack on Philippine forces in South China Sea invokes US mutual defense commitment – Blinken


United States (US) Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has reaffirmed that “an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.”

Secretary Blinken made the statement on the fifth anniversary of the Arbitral Tribunal Ruling on the South China Sea.

“Five years ago, an Arbitral Tribunal constituted under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention delivered a unanimous and enduring decision firmly rejecting the PRC’s expansive South China Sea maritime claims as having no basis in international law.  The Tribunal stated that the PRC has no lawful claim to the area determined by the Arbitral Tribunal to be part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.  The PRC and the Philippines, pursuant to their treaty obligations under the Law of the Sea Convention, are legally bound to comply with this decision,” Blinken said.


“Nowhere is the rules-based maritime order under greater threat than in the South China Sea.  The People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to coerce and intimidate Southeast Asian coastal states, threatening freedom of navigation in this critical global throughway,” he said.

“We call on the PRC to abide by its obligations under international law, cease its provocative behavior, and take steps to reassure the international community that it is committed to the rules-based maritime order that respects the rights of all countries, big and small,” he added.