Washington is ready to help Manila in the event that Beijing invades Pag-Asa, the second largest island in the disputed Spratly Islands, a top US military official said.
Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, could not say what form of assistance may be extended to the Philippines but noted that the two countries have existing defense treaties.
“Of course we would help you and now I don’t know what that help would be (given) specifically,” Greenert told students of the National Defense College of the Philippines in Quezon City.
“I mean we have an obligation because we have a treaty, but I don’t know into what capacity that help is,” he added.
Greenert was asked whether the US will help the Philippines defend its territory if China seizes Pag-Asa, which is being occupied by Filipino soldiers and more than 200 civilians.
A Chinese news network has reported that the Chinese Navy has a detailed plan to seize the Pag-Asa Island from the Philippines this year.
Pag-Asa, which China calls Zhongye, is part of Kalayaan Island, a fifth class municipality in Palawan. The Philippines has built a town hall, a 1.3-kilometer airstrip, a naval station, a health center and a kindergarten school in the island.