The United States reaffirmed its commitment to defend the Philippines in the event of an armed attack in the disputed South China Sea.

This comes after reports that a Chinese Coast Guard ship fired a “military laser beam” at a Philippine Navy patrol ship, leaving its crew “temporarily blind”.

“China’s dangerous operational behavior directly threatens regional peace and stability, violates the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea guaranteed by international law, and undermines the rules-based international order,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday.

The United States stands by our Filipino allies, Price said, adding: “Any armed attack on Philippine troops, government ships or aircraft, including the Coast Guard in the South China Sea, will trigger the United States’ mutual defense obligations. under the 1951 treaty.

The treaty obliges the two allies to defend each other in the event of an external attack.

The Philippines accused a Chinese ship of sending a military laser beam on February 6 to prevent a Philippine patrol ship (BRP Malapascua) from approaching Second Thomas Shoal, a submerged coral reef under the control of Philippine forces.

In addition to China and the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims to a resource-rich waterway through which much of the world’s trade and oil passes.

Source: AB

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