Pompeo assures Philippines of US protection in South China Sea

Pompeo assures Philippines of US protection in South China Sea
© Greg Nash

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Pentagon redirects pandemic funding to defense contractors | US planning for full Afghanistan withdrawal by May | Anti-Trump GOP group puts ads in military papers Overnight Defense: House Democrats unveil stopgap spending measure to GOP opposition | Bill includes .6B for new subs | Trump issues Iran sanctions after world shrugs at US action at UN Navalny calls on Russia to return clothes he was wearing when he fell ill MORE on Friday visited Manila, where he assured Philippine officials that the Trump administration would provide military support if the country's vessels fell under attack from Chinese forces in the South China Sea.

Reuters and The Associated Press report that Pompeo told reporters at a press conference that the U.S. would ensure that the South China Sea remained open for trade despite increased activity from Chinese naval and military forces in the area in recent years.

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“I think the whole world understands that the Trump administration has made a true commitment to making sure that these seas remain open for the security of the countries in the region and the world, open to commercial transit,” Pompeo told reporters, according to the AP.

“China’s island-building and military activities in the South China Sea threaten your sovereignty, security and therefore economic livelihood, as well as that of the United States,” Pompeo continued, according to Reuters.

“Any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger mutual defense obligations," he added.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang on Friday reportedly said Chinese forces in the area are there to maintain territorial sovereignty and that the U.S. and other ships should have no problems in the region if they don't start trouble.

“So if countries outside the region, like the United States, really want to consider the peace, tranquillity and well-being of people in the region, then they shouldn’t make trouble out of nothing and incite trouble," Lu said, according to the news services.

Philippine foreign secretary Teodoro Locsin expressed confidence in U.S. support after his meeting with Pompeo, telling reporters that “[w]e are very assured, we are very confident that United States has, in the words of Secretary Pompeo, and in the words of President TrumpDonald John TrumpOmar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: 'This is my country' Pelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare Trump mocks Biden appearance, mask use ahead of first debate MORE to our president, ‘we have your back.' ”