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Ex-admiral: US should defend reef off Philippines

FILE - In this March 29, 2014, file photo, a Chinese Coast Guard ship attempts to block a Philippine government vessel as the latter tries to enter Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea to relieve Philippine troops and resupply provisions. In one of the world's most disputed waters, the puny Philippine navy doesn't stand a chance against China's flotilla of combat ships. So when diplomacy went nowhere and Beijing's ships seized a disputed shoal and surrounded another reef, Filipino officials took a desperate step: They went to court. AP/Bullit Marquez, File

WASHINGTON — A former commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific says the U.S. should be willing to use military force to oppose Chinese aggression at a disputed reef off the coast of the Philippines.

Dennis Blair has made the recommendation to a Senate panel Wednesday, a day after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's expansive claims in the South China Sea.

Blair says the objective is not to pick a fight with China at the disputed Scarborough Shoal, but to set a limit on its military coercion.

The Philippines is a U.S. ally but their treaty is ambiguous about whether the U.S. would come to its defense in disputed territory.

A 2012 standoff at Scarborough Shoal between China and the Philippines prompted Manila to launch the arbitration case.

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