The United States has an agreement with the Philippines to gain access to four more military bases facing Taiwan and the South China Sea. With this new agreement, US forces will be able to monitor Chinese military activities from Japan and South Korea to Australia – continuously and without geographical interruptions.
According to the US Department of Defense, it is not about the forceful return of US forces to the Philippines, but about access to four local military bases. Instead of thousands of soldiers, small units will be sent on a rotating basis, according to the BBC.
Until the 1980s, under dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the United States had 15,000 troops stationed in the Philippines, at military bases in Clark and Subic Bay. Announced Thursday, the new agreement between the two countries comes nine months after Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos — the former dictator’s son — was elected president of the Philippines.
In a statement, the Pentagon notes that it already has “limited access” to five bases, and says the new agreement will enable “faster support for humanitarian crises, climate-related disasters, and other challenges” — in what could be read as a hint of a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
“It is not possible to respond to an event in the South China Sea without going to the Philippines,” Gregory Boling of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies told the BBC. “The United States does not want permanent bases. We are talking about positions, not rules.”
There is no official confirmation of the location of the Philippine bases that will be used by US forces. According to the BBC, three are likely to be located on the largest island, Luzon — the closest province to Taiwan outside mainland China — and one in the western part of the Palawan archipelago, opposite the disputed Spratly Islands.
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