These Two Paragraphs Explain Why You Should Be Watching This China-Philippines Territorial Dispute

Scarborough Shoal

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Yesterday we published a good take on the worrying levels of vitriol being displayed between China and the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal, a fishing area around a little patch of rocky islands.For more than a month now ships from the two nations have been sitting in the South China Sea in a standoff, to all appearances waiting for war.

If that happens, be prepared for US involvement.

Choire Sicha from the Awl pointed us in the direction of a little treaty called the “Mutual defence Treaty Between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America“.

A paper from the Philippines, the Business Mirror, has a useful history of that treaty, which gives a good idea of why it may end up being so important.

Here’s two key paragraphs.

Article IV of the MDT states: “Each Party recognises that an armed attack in the Pacific area on either of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.”

Article V of the MDT further provides that “an armed attack on either of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack on: the metropolitan territory of either of the Parties, or  on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific Ocean, and its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.”

The paper also notes that just last year Hilary Clinton said “we are committed to honouring our mutual obligation”.

So, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that there are now more US troops in the Philippines than in World War II and US Marines in Australia — and China is getting pissed.

But it’s pretty disheartening to read reports that say even now the US is not doing enough.

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