Philippines Defense Secretary Wants Review of US Treaty to Avoid War With China

Questions value of Mutual Defense Treaty From 1951

Just days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared the US to be committed militarily to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with China, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has called for his side to conduct a review of the matter and decide whether they still want to be.

The question to be reviewed is whether this benefits the Philippines at all. Though the US is constantly reiterating its military support for the Philippines, Lorenzana noted that “the Philippines is not in a conflict with anyone and will not be at war with anyone in the future.”

The same can’t necessarily be said of the US, as Lorenzana noted that the US is a lot more likely to get into a shooting war with China than the Philippines is. He is concerned that the 1951 treaty would automatically suck the Philippines into a war they don’t want.

The Pentagon has openly been making “freedom of navigation” operations in the South China Sea specifically intended to needle China. Though this is presented as being done for the benefit of the Philippines and their maritime rights, the Philippine government didn’t ask them to, and doesn’t want that war, if the US can manage to provoke it. It is clear they feel the need to review the treaty before such a war starts, rather than after.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.