US commends Philippines on removal of Chinese barrier in South China Sea
The Philippines' removal of a Chinese floating barrier near the Scarborough Shoal in a disputed part of the South China Sea was "a bold step in defending their own sovereignty," a senior U.S. defense official said on Thursday.
Manila had expressed outrage over China's placement of a long, ball-buoy barrier near the rocky outcrop, some 200 km (124 miles) from the Philippines. It has seen years of intermittent flare-ups over sovereignty and fishing rights.
The Philippines coast guard said on Monday it executed a "special operation" to remove the barrier, calling it a violation of international law and a hazard to navigation.
During a congressional hearing, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Lindsey Ford commended the Philippines' action and reaffirmed Washington's security commitments to its Asian ally.
"The department has been incredibly clear that when it comes to our treaty commitments to the Philippines, we believe an armed attack against Philippine Armed Forces, public vessels, aircraft, apply to the South China Sea. That includes the Philippine Coast Guard," Ford told a House of Representatives
subcommittee on foreign affairs.