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Damage to Philippine ships and injuries to crew are ‘irresponsible behavior’, says US Defense Secretary Austin

HONOLULU: Damage to Philippine ships and injuries to their crews in the South China Sea is “irresponsible behavior” that ignores international law, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday (May 2) , weighing in on the latest flare-up involving China. .

Manila and Beijing have exchanged barbs almost daily since Tuesday’s clash at the disputed Scarborough Shoal, where China’s coast guard used water cannon against two Philippine ships, sparking outrage from its government.

“We have been very clear with everyone, including Beijing, that the type of behavior we have seen, where Filipino crews are put in harm’s way…injured sailors and property damage, is irresponsible behavior,” Austin said. he said at a joint news conference in Hawaii.

Austin reiterated that the United States would continue to support its former colony the Philippines, as outlined in a 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.

“Our commitment to the treaty is ironclad and we stand with the Philippines,” he said after a meeting with his defense counterparts from the Philippines, Australia and Japan.

Along with Austin, Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro declined to speculate on the conditions under which Manila might invoke the treaty, saying it would be a “political decision.”