In comments on Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that the US still considers the 1951 Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty to be fully intact, and would adhere to it in the event Philippines forces come under fire in the South China Sea.
US officials have repeatedly made clear that they intend to support the Philippines militarily in the South China Sea. Pompeo singled out China as a threat to Philippine sovereignty, and cited their island-building as a problem.
This comes after Philippine DM Delfin Lorenzana has been pressing the US for a review of the treaty, and clarification of what the US would actually do if the Philippines suddenly come under attack.
It’s not clear that’s what Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte wants, however. Duterte has said he doesn’t care about China’s island-building, and doesn’t have any problem with China’s behavior in the region. He’s also expressed concern that the US interest in confronting China in the South China Sea might suck the Philippines into an American war.
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