Daily US Times: On Sunday, Biden administration upheld a Trump-era rejection of nearly all of China’s significant maritime claims in the South China Sea. The Biden administration also warned Beijing that any attack on the Philippines in the flashpoint region would draw a US response under a mutual defense treaty.
The stern message from Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, came in a statement released ahead of this week’s fifth anniversary of an international tribunal’s ruling in favor of the Philippines, against Beijing’s claims in South China Sea around the Spratly Islands and neighboring reefs and shoals.
Last year, ahead of the fourth anniversary of the ruling by the international tribunal, which was rejected by China, the Trump administration came out in favor of the ruling but also said the United States regarded as illegal virtually all Chinese claims in the South China Sea outside China’s internationally recognized areas. Sunday’s statement reaffirms that position, which had been laid out by former US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.
Blinken said: “Nowhere is the rules-based maritime order under greater threat than in the South China Sea.” Mr Blinken accused China of continuing “to coerce and intimidate Southeast Asian coastal states, threatening freedom of navigation in this critical global throughway.”
Article IV of the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense agreement obligates both countries to come to each other’s aid in case of an attack.
Although the United States continues to remain neutral in territorial disputes, it has effectively sided with the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Vietnam, all of which oppose Chinese assertions of sovereignty over maritime areas surrounding contested South China Sea reefs, islands and shoals.