US vows to protect interests in West Philippine Sea, defend territory from being taken over

  • The US under Trump’s new administration has vowed to defend its interests in the West Philippine Sea
  • Washington also said it will defend ‘international territories’ from being taken over by one country
  • China, in response, urged the US to “respect the facts and act cautiously”

The United States under the new administration of President Donald S. Trump has vowed to protect its interest in the contested West Philippine Sea/ South China Sea in Asia in what could be interpreted as an affirmation of an earlier remark made by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during his confirmation hearing in Congress.

Asked whether the White House agreed with Tillerson’s bold pronouncement that US will prevent China access to the man-made islands, the source of conflict between Asian countries including the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan, Spokesperson Sean Spicer said Washington is going to make sure it will protect its interests there.

“It’s a question of if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yeah, we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country,” the official said.

Spicer’s remark drew another strong rebuttal from China; maintaining that the US is not a party to the South China Sea dispute.

In a statement, Foreign ministry spokesman Hua Shunying insisted China has ‘indisputable sovereignty’ over the contested waterways, “but remains committed to peaceful negotiations with the countries concerned.”

“We urge the United States to respect the facts, speak and act cautiously to avoid harming the peace and stability of the South China Sea,” Hua said.

The Chinese official stressed that her country’s actions in the West Philippine Sea are fair and reasonable.

“No matter what changes happen in other countries, what they say or what they want to do, China’s resolve to protect its sovereignty and maritime rights in the South China Sea will not change,” Hua added.