Yesterday, the United States and the Philippines announced an agreement allowing for the strengthening of the American military presence and enabling the forces to use four additional forces in the country located in Southeast Asia, at a time when the two allies seek to address the escalation of China’s military influence.
The agreement to expand cooperation in “strategic areas of the country” was concluded during a visit by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to Manila. Given its proximity to Taiwan and the waters around it, the Philippines’ cooperation would be crucial to the United States in the event of a conflict with China.
Austin said yesterday that the four new rules bring the number of sites that US forces can access to nine.
Talks are underway about a possible tenth site, according to a Philippine official quoted by AFP.
China has criticized the agreement, saying the United States is exacerbating “regional tensions” by continuing to boost its military deployment. “Out of self-interest, the United States continues to strengthen its military deployment in the region with a zero-sum mentality, which exacerbates tension in the region and endangers regional peace and stability,” a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry added.
This step comes on the eve of the arrival of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to Beijing next Sunday, on a visit that is the first by a top US diplomat in nearly five years and the first by a senior US official to China since its retraction of zero-COVID-19 policies in December. the past.