United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim on Thursday, May 23, said maintaining the good relationship between U.S. and Philippine forces is essential for the stability of the region.
Though the United States is not directly involved in the claims, Kim told reporters that the country has a “very serious interest” in the area.
“[W]e take a very serious interest in what’s happening in the South China Sea, and that’s why we work very hard to protect freedom of navigation, freedom of overflight,” Kim told reporters.
In a forum at Quezon City, the U.S. envoy highlighted the advantage of having comprehensive freedom of navigation program (FONOP). The program permits the U.S. to fly, sail and operate “wherever international law allows.”
“These are principles and values that are important for all of us, not just for the Pacific region, but for the international community, that’s why we’re carrying out a freedom of navigation operations,” Kim explained.
He added that the U.S.’ duty under the Mutual Defense Treaty would be applicable to the South China Sea since it is in the Pacific.
Kim also noted that the concerns of the U.S. stemmed from China’s aggressive and unilateral actions in the South China Sea. The U.S. warned the developing country that those actions could possibly have a “very direct effect” on the sovereignty and interest of the Philippines.
The industrialized country has long urged other claimants in the region namely China, Taiwan, and ASEAN member-states Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam to refrain from exhibiting actions that would compromise international laws.