After 220 Chinese ships invaded Philippine territory a few days ago, illegally occupying the Julian Felipe Reef, Philippine Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin Jr. urged his country’s Senate to act in its defense. 

Aware that his military capability could not defeat the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Locsin urged senators to turn to the United States’ defense treaty to deal with the territorial dispute with their neighbor, according to Breitbart March 25. 

“We must have the courage to go where probably we will not be able to go back from. Because if we don’t send that message to the other side, then they will just keep trenching and trenching and trenching in our territory, and then our sense of nationhood dies,” Locsin told lawmakers. 

He added that the terms of the treaty bind the United States to react to any aggression against a Philippine vessel, no matter how small, as if it were the U.S.–flagged one. 

Locsin said “that any attack on a Philippine vessel—however small, as long as it is a government vessel like a Coast Guard—is an attack on the United States and triggers the Mutual Defense Treaty.”

Observers consider the hundreds of CCP vessels to be part of China’s maritime militia.

“Despite clear weather at the time, the Chinese vessels massed at the reef showed no actual fishing activities and had their full white lights turned on during night time,” the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea said in a statement released on March 20, according to Philstar.

For years, the CCP has assaulted small countries with sovereignty over the South China Sea, including significant territory in the Philippines’ maritime Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), claiming almost all of it. 

It has also encroached on territory belonging to Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei.

Mike Pompeo, former U.S. Secretary of State, has publicized the CCP’s claims’ illegality, as has current Secretary of State (Anthony) Blinken. 

“Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them,” Pompeo officially said in a July 13 press statement after reviewing the facts.