WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The United States and the Philippines agreed to expand America’s military presence in the Southeast Asian nation.
- The U.S. will have access to four more bases amid China’s increasingly aggressive actions toward Taiwan.
- Tensions between the U.S. and China have become alarmingly high, sparking war concerns.
The United States made an agreement with the Philippines to expand America’s military presence in the country. The Philippines, under a new government, will allow the U.S. to access four more military bases around the South China Sea as it seeks to counter China’s growing aggression in the South China sea region.
The agreement was announced Thursday as the U.S. opened an embassy in the Solomon Islands on the same day to counter China in the Pacific waters.
United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his Philippine counterpart Carlito Galvez said in a joint news conference that the U.S. would be given access to the military bases under the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
The American military will now have access to nine bases after four newly added locations. The U.S. also announced it is investing more than $82 million toward infrastructure at the existing locations.
With the agreement, the U.S. will have access to Philippine military bases for the purpose of “joint training, pre-positioning of equipment and the building of facilities such as runways, fuel storage and housing.”
The pact can be seen as an effort by Washington to secure its presence around the South China Sea to deter China’s aggression over the disputed South China Sea and increasing tensions over Taiwan.
Philipines’ new president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is making an effort to renew good relationships with the U.S. that were tainted by his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-American rhetoric.
Washington had reportedly requested access to the northern part of the Philippines which is closest to Taiwan and on the island of Palawan, facing the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
Vice president Kamala Harris visited the Philippines last November.
During the press conference on Thursday, Austin said, “That’s just part of our efforts to modernize our alliance. And these efforts are especially important as the People’s Republic of China continues to advance its illegitimate claims in the West Philippine Sea.”
Beijing responded strongly to the announcement, stating that greater access to military bases will hurt regional stability and raise tensions.
The Philippines, the United States’ oldest treaty ally in Asia, used to host two of the largest U.S. Navy and Air Force bases outside America. The bases were shut down in the early 1990s after the Philippine Senate rejected an extension.
Source: Fox News