On March 1, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated: “any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger mutual defense obligations under Article IV of our mutual defense treaty.”
To many analysts, Pompeo's statement appeared to be the most significant action the Trump administration has taken to “redouble our commitment to established alliances” in the Indo-Pacific region, as promised in the 2017 National Security Strategy.
Yet, coming amid North Korea nuclear talks, India-Pakistan tensions, and China trade negotiations, the announcement made few headlines. Why did Pompeo make this statement — and what are the implications? Here's what you need to know.