US and Philippine officials announced on Thursday that the United States intends to increase its military presence in the Philippines amid rising tensions between China and the island of Taiwan.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. plans to deploy US troops to several bases on the Philippine islands to expand its presence in the region to ensure stability and enhance “interoperability” with regional allies. has agreed to allow.
Under the agreement, which was announced by senior leaders at the Camp Aguinaldo military headquarters in Manila, Philippines, the US military will be given access to four more Philippine military bases, giving them territory to provide troops, training and military resources. Will meet as the country sees. Stop the increasingly aggressive China.
During a joint press conference, Marcos commented on the “complicated” situation in the Pacific and said that his country was counting on the strength of the US and the partnership between the two countries to prevent tensions from escalating into a possible military conflict.
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“This is something that we can only properly navigate with the help of our allies and partners,” he added.
Austin echoed these comments, calling the Philippines “an important and vital ally” and that US global policy was to continue to strengthen this relationship in every way possible.
“And so from a defense perspective, we will continue to work closely with our great partners to build up and modernize your capability as well as enhance your interoperability. So we are very pleased to be here once again, and I A great discussion,” said the Defense Secretary.
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The Philippines and the US also said in a joint statement that there has been “substantial” progress in projects at five Philippine military bases where US military personnel were previously granted access by Filipino authorities under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, or EDCA.
The US and the Philippines said, “EDCA is a key pillar of the US-Philippines alliance, supporting joint training, exercises and interoperability between our militaries.”
The joint statement continued: “Adding these new EDCA locations will allow for more rapid support for humanitarian and climate-related disasters in the Philippines, and respond to other shared challenges.”
“The Philippine-US alliance has stood the test of time and remains strong,” he added. “We look forward to the opportunities these new sites will create to expand our collaboration together.”
Additional details related to the location and size of additional Philippine camps where the US military would be allowed to build barracks, warehouses and hangars.
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Austin noted that the US was not seeking a “permanent” presence at the bases.
Marcos Jr., who took office in June, has held talks with the leaders of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan on regional deterrence as China continues military operations in the Pacific.
Amid territorial disputes over the busy and resource-rich South China Sea, China has also dominated waterways.
Washington maintains no official claims over disputes in the South China Sea, but has said it will defend against potential attacks on regional allies. President Biden said the US would send troops to defend Taiwan should China invade the semi-autonomous territory, although the White House later denied this statement.
The US and most of the world recognize the One China policy, which states that Taiwan is not a country or independent of China. Instead, the policy states that the democratic region falls exclusively under Chinese rule.
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Washington has deployed warships and surveillance aircraft to patrol the area, which it says promotes freedom of navigation and the rule of law, which has angered Beijing.
Some protesters were seen on the streets outside the Austin-Marcos meeting. Several signals called for the withdrawal of American troops.
The Philippines is America’s oldest treaty ally in Asia and used to host the two largest US Navy and Air Force bases outside the US mainland. The bases were closed in the early 1990s.
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The Philippine constitution prohibits the permanent basing of foreign troops but the EDCA Defense Agreement allows US forces to remain indefinitely in rotating batches within designated Philippine camps. The agreement gives exemptions for defense equipment but does not allow nuclear weapons.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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