SNAPSHOTS

A South China Sea Flare-Up Renews Attention on the U.S.-Philippine Military Pact

MIN READNov 19, 2021 | 19:42 GMT

A Chinese coast guard ship prepares to anchor at the Manila port in the Philippines on Jan. 14, 2020.

A Chinese coast guard ship prepares to anchor at the Manila port in the Philippines on Jan. 14, 2020.

(STR/AFP via Getty Images)

The latest incident in the South China Sea is reinvigorating attention on the U.S.-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), which pledges U.S. assistance if the Philippines comes under attack, and Washington’s role in the Indo-Pacific. On Nov. 16, three Chinese coast guard ships blocked two Philippine resupply ships from reaching the Philippine-occupied but Chinese-claimed Ayungin Shoal, also known as the Second Thomas Shoal or Renai Jiao, in the South China Sea. The incident comes as the United States and the Philippines are shoring up relations, which have been periodically strained under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. It also comes shortly after the declaration of candidates for the Philippine presidential elections, which are scheduled for May 2022. In response to the blocking of the two ships, Philippine officials and politicians -- including several of those candidates -- asserted that any action against Philippine public vessels falls within the scope of the Mutual Defense Treaty,...

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