US assures Philippines of help in disputed sea

February 14, 2014 - 7:00:09 am
MANILA: The US will come to the aid of the Philippines in the event of conflict with China over disputed waters in the South China Sea, the commander of the US Navy said yesterday.

The comments by Admiral Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, were the most explicit statement of US support for the ill-equipped Philippine military  facing a more assertive China in disputed waters.

“We would help you,” Greenert told students of the National Defence College of the Philippines in response to a question about a hypothetical Chinese occupation of one of the disputed Spratly Islands.

“I don’t know what that help would be specifically. I mean, we have an obligation because we have a treaty. But, I don’t know in what capacity that help is.”

China claims about 90 percent of the South China Sea’s 3.5 million sqkm waters. 

The sea provides 10 percent of the global fisheries catch and carries $5trn in ship-borne trade each year. AFP