Contributor Perspectives

A Fishing Boat Attack Highlights the Rocky Status of U.S.-Philippine Defense Ties

Lino Miani
Board of Contributors
Aug 5, 2019 | 09:30 GMT
Jaypee Gordiones, Felix Dela Torre and Richard Blaze (left to right), crew members of a fishing vessel that sank after it collided with a Chinese fishing boat off Reed Bank in the South China Sea, are mobbed by journalists following a news conference in Manila on June 28, 2019.

Crew members of a fishing vessel that sank after it collided with a Chinese fishing boat off Reed Bank in the South China Sea are mobbed by journalists following a news conference in Manila on June 28. The United States is hemming and hawing about backing up the Philippines against China.

(TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

Both sides in the long and occasionally troubled U.S.-Philippine alliance have used their Mutual Defense Treaty to shape each other's behavior, most recently with regard to its applicability to the South China Sea. But as foreign policy experts around the world mull the content of the U.S. ambassador's statements about a recent incident that sunk a Philippine fishing vessel in the area, some key wording suggests the intended audience may be Manila -- rather than Beijing -- and that Washington isn't all too eager to dive into a battle with China....

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