United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday that Washington “does not take sides on territorial disputes over land features in the South China Sea” or what Manila has recently dubbed as West Philippine Sea.

Clinton made the declaration at a press conference after the “bilateral strategic dialogue” between Washington and Manila.

Washington's top diplomat Hillary Clinton says the US won't take sides on the Spratlys issue. (File Photo.)

Clinton said:

the US does not take sides on territorial disputes over land features in the South China Sea, but we oppose the use of force or the threat of force to advance the claims of any party

“We’re troubled by the recent incidents in the South China Sea that have increased tensions and raised concerns about the peace and security of the region,” said Clinton.

Clinton added that “these reported incidents clearly present significant maritime security issues, including the freedom of navigation, respect for international law, and the lawful, unimpeded economic development and commerce that all nations are entitled to pursue.”

Responding to a Filipino reporter’s question on what the US would do if China attacks the Philippines over the disputed Spratly islands, Clinton answered:

I’m not going to discuss hypothetical events.

… even as she assured that the US “honors our Mutual Defense Treaty and our strategic alliance with the Philippines. ”

Clinton instead stressed that the US is backing “a collaborative diplomatic process by all claimants to resolve their disputes without the use or threat of force.”

Perhaps to assuage Manila, Clinton announced that “Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell will be leading the American side in the first Asia Pacific consultation at a high level between the United States and China in Hawaii over the weekend, and this will be certainly one of the most important issues on the agenda.”

Albert del Rosario, the Philippines’ foreign secretary also stood and spoke alongside Clinton.

In his remarks, Del Rosario said that “while we are a small country, we are prepared to do what is necessary to stand up to any aggressive action in our backyard.”

Del Rosario returns to Manila without any concrete commitment from Washington regarding aid in case the ruckus with Beijing erupts in violence, except what he described as “a steadfast assurance that the partnership between the Philippines and the U.S. remains important to the United States and to the overall U.S. engagement in the Asia Pacific region.”

We don’t know how Del Rosario articulated the Philippine position and desires during the Washington meeting. But judging from the noises coming from Manila, the neocolonial government of the Philippines wants to defend its sovereignty by asking help from its former colonial master. We have loud and clear the so-called solution of colonial-minded Filipino officials to the Chinese incursions in the Philippine portions of the Spratlys, and that is to expect and/or beg for US military aid under the pro-US Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement.

Manila won’t allow itself to made a doormat of China because it is already Uncle Sam’s doormat.

Read the full transcript of the Clinton press conference here.