Well-known Chinese news site Sina (NASDAQ: SINA) recently reported that Philippine President Duterte met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on July 29. The two sides announced the full resumption of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and agreed that there is room for strengthening the relationship between the two countries. Secretary Austin, at a joint press conference on the next day, expressed his gratitude to President Duterte for his decision to fully restore the VFA. The VFA is one of the critical military agreements signed by the Philippines and the United States in 1998. It includes agreements on military exercises. President Duterte proposed to terminate the VFA last year. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said earlier that the differences and contradictions between China and the Philippines, as President Duterte has repeatedly emphasized, should not affect the friendship and cooperation between the two nations. Some analysts expressed the belief that Duterte is trying to please the military in exchange of their support for his election effort next year. Secretary Austin visited three Southeast Asian countries including Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines in late July to strengthen alliances in the region.
Source: Sina, July 30, 2021