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a glorified reef by any other name

President Obama pledges millions to Asian allies to stand up to China

As China extends its territorial claims to the South China Sea, building up underwater reefs into airstrips and islands to host military equipment, the United States is pushing back by funding its allies in the region. On Tuesday, President Obama pledged an additional $250 million over the next two years to the navies of Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam with the goal of resisting China's reach.

The fear is that China's artificial islands represent a territorial grab and could block crucial trade routes, which are among the most heavily trafficked in the world. The U.S. has repeatedly challenged China on the issue, even sailing a Navy destroyer through the region, but the U.S. has not taken an official stand one way or another on who owns the waterway. (For more, here's a refresher on the conflict from Daily PNUT).

"We have a treaty obligation, an ironclad commitment to the defense of our ally the Philippines, who can count on the United States. My visit here underscores our shared commitment to the security of the waters of this region and to the freedom of navigation," Obama said in his remarks.