Philippines' president calls on US defense pact to back him in a naval fight with Beijing in the South China Sea

Business Insider | 7/17/2019 | Alex Lockie
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Rodrigo Duterte, the firebrand president of the Philippines, on Wednesday called on the US to send warships to defend the island nation against Chinese military aggression as part of a decades-old Mutual Defense Treaty.

A Chinese vessel is accused of ramming a Filipino fishing boat in the Philippines' waters and leaving the fishers for dead.

Attack - China - Philippines - US - Response

It's unclear if this attack can be cleanly pinned on China or if the Philippines can demand a US armed response, but the US is under a lot of pressure to flex its muscles, and the Philippines is a key ally that, under Duterte, is increasingly unpredictable.

China routinely ignores international law as it militarizes artificial islands it built in international waters in the South China Sea, and it has frequently threatened US ships.

Rodrigo - Duterte - Firebrand - President - Philippines

Rodrigo Duterte, the firebrand president of the Philippines, on Wednesday called on the US to send warships to defend the island nation against Chinese military aggression as part of a decades-old Mutual Defense Treaty.

"I'm calling now, America. I am invoking the RP-US pact, and I would like America to gather their Seventh Fleet in front of China. I'm asking them now," Duterte said, according to CNN Philippines.

Duterte - Seventh - Fleet - Part - US

Duterte referred to the Seventh Fleet, the part of the US Navy stationed in Japan that patrols and operates in the Pacific and Indian oceans.

His call follows a mid-June incident in which a Chinese ship rammed an anchored Filipino ship, sinking it and leaving 22 on board adrift in the sea. Those fishers left adrift eventually were rescued, but the issue brought forth a bitter argument and a nationwide reckoning with China for the Philippines.

Filipino - Ship - Recto - Bank - Miles

The Filipino ship had been fishing in Recto Bank, about 100 nautical miles outside the island of Palawan and well inside the Philippines' internationally recognized maritime borders. China, however, claims the waters as its own.

The...
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