US will help Philippines in sea dispute with China: The United States chief of naval operations says the US will “help” the Philippines if China tries to occupy disputed islands in the South China Sea.
Admiral Jonathan Greenert said the US would honour its mutual defence treaty it has with the Philippines in the event of a sea dispute with China over the resource-rich waters, according to reports.
“Of course we would help you,” the admiral told students at a state defence college in Manila. “I don’t know what that help would be, specifically.
“I mean we have an obligation because we have a treaty.”
The Philippines and the United States have a 1951 treaty that officials say binds the two countries to defend each other in case of an external attack, according to reports.
His comments are some of the strongest-worded declarations of American support for the Philippines, and come at a time of increasing concerns that China may try to forcefully assert its claim to nearly all of the South China Sea.
The US has not taken a stand on the conflicting claims over the South China Sea, which involves not only China and the Philippines, but also Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan.
Admiral Greenert said he wanted to send a “clear signal… that aggressive behaviour outside of international norms is contrary to good order”.
Sea dispute with China “You may have seen some statements coming from our policy makers exactly in that direction,” he said.
“You will see more of that from us.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry, during a December visit to the Philippines, warned China against declaring an air defence zone in the South China Sea.
Admiral Greenert praised the Philippines for asking a United Nations tribunal to strike down China’s claims to most of the South China Sea, calling it “a terrific idea”.
The admiral urged the Philippines “to stay the course and bring this to fruition” despite China’s refusal to participate in the process.