The US State Department is concerned about the presence of Chinese ships near the Philippines and the entry of Beijing jets into the Taiwan air defense zone.
The United States has warned China against what the Philippines and Taiwan see as increasingly aggressive measures, reminding Beijing of Washington’s obligations to its partners as the two rival powers step up naval activities at sea from southern China.
“An armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public ships or aircraft in the Pacific, including the South China Sea, will trigger our obligations under the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty,” the door said on Wednesday. – Speech by State Department, Ned Price.
“We share the concerns of our Filipino allies over the continuously reported gathering of PRC maritime militias near the Whitsun Reef,” Price said, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
More than 200 Chinese boats were first spotted on March 7 at Whitsun Reef, about 320 kilometers (200 miles) west of Palawan Island and in the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Since the first reported sighting, the vessels have dispersed over a wider area of the South China Sea in the Manila EEZ as defined by the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
China – which claims almost all of the resource-rich sea – refused, insisting that these are fishing boats that are sheltered from the elements and allowed to be there.
In response, Manila warned that the presence of the ships could spark “unwanted hostilities” between the two nations.
Taiwan Relations Act
Tensions have also grown with Taiwan, which Beijing claims is part of China, with the Autonomous Democracy reporting on Wednesday that 15 more planes from the mainland have passed through the island’s air defense zone.
Taipei has warned it will defend itself “until the last day” if necessary.
Chinese carrier Liaoning also conducted a naval exercise near Taiwan on Monday, and Beijing said such exercises will become regular events.
Price, the US spokesperson, expressed his “concern” over the Chinese measures, saying: “The United States retains the ability to resist any use of force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security or the social or economic system of the population. Taiwan. “
He was using language from the Taiwan Relations Act, under which the United States is obligated to provide the island with the means to defend itself against Beijing.
The United States released the latest statement as Beijing confirmed it had followed the destroyer USS John McCain which crossed the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday.
“The US decision to send a warship across the Taiwan Strait and publicly exaggerate it is an old trick to ‘manipulate’ the situation across the strait,” said Senior Col. Zhang. Chunhui, spokesman for the Eastern Theater of the China People’s Liberation Army Command, said in a statement.
“China is strongly opposed to this,” he said.
The United States earlier defended its latest naval activity by calling it a “routine” transit.
“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The US military will continue to fly, navigate and operate wherever international law permits, ”the US Navy said in a statement.
President Joe Biden has pledged to mount a strong defense of his allies and, in a rare point of continuity with his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, has supported a strong response against China’s assertion.