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US Warns to Defend Allies If China Breaks Rules of the Sea

Wshington DC, - US Secretary of State Antony Blinken repeated calls for China to abide by a 2016 arbitration award that invalidated Beijing's broad claims in the South China Sea. He also warned that Washington is obliged to defend its ally, the Philippines, if its troops, ships or planes are attacked in disputed waters.

Reporting from VOA Indonesia Blinken's statement, issued by the US Embassy in Manila on Tuesday (12/7), was released on the sixth anniversary of the ruling of an arbitral tribunal established in The Hague under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, after the Philippine government in 2013 complained of China's increasingly aggressive actions at sea dispute.

China did not participate in the arbitration, rejecting the award it called false and continuing to oppose it, leading it to territorial disputes with the Philippines and Southeast Asian countries that have also claimed it in recent years.

"We again ask China to abide by its obligations under international law and stop its provocative behavior," Blinken said.

"We also reiterate that armed attacks on Philippine armed forces, public ships or aircraft in the South China Sea will encourage the enactment of US joint defense commitments" under the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty, Blinken said.

In addition to China and the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims in the busy waterway, which is believed to be rich in undersea gas and oil reserves, and of which $5 trillion worth of trade and goods are estimated through it each year.

This disputed territory is becoming a major thing in the US-China rivalry.

Washington does not claim the disputed waters but has deployed Navy vessels and Air Force jets to patrol the waters for decades, and declares freedom of navigation and overflight in the disputed region to be in the U.S. national interest. This has sparked an angry reaction from China, which accuses the US of interfering in the dispute in Asia and warned the US to stay away.

Philippine Foreign Minister Enrique Manalo Tuesday said the arbitral ruling would be a pillar of the country's new administration's policies and actions in the disputed territory and rejected efforts to undermine the "undeniable" decision.

China is unlikely to like manalo's stance on the policies of the government of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who took office last June 30 after winning by a landslide in the election.

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