BBC Chinese recently reported that the U.S. has, through an agreement, gained access to four new military bases in the Philippines. These important sites will provide the U.S. military with a forward position to monitor Chinese activities in the South China Sea and around Taiwan. With the agreement, Washington has filled a gap in the U.S. chain of Pacific islands from South Korea and Japan to Australia in the south. That gap in the island chain used to be none other than the Philippines, which borders two of the biggest potential flashpoints, Taiwan and the South China Sea. According to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed by the United States and the Philippines in 2014, the United States previously had limited access to five bases located in the Philippines. The new locations and expanded access will allow for more rapid support for humanitarian and climate-related disasters in the Philippines and to address other shared challenges. The White House did not disclose the locations of the new military bases, but three of them may be located on the island of Luzon on the northern edge of the Philippines. If China is not considered, this is the only large landmass close to Taiwan. This agreement to some extent reverses the situation in which the United States left its former colony more than 30 years ago, and the impact cannot be underestimated. However, the White House is seeking access to “light and flexible operations” sites that can resupply and monitor “as needed,” rather than military bases housing large numbers of troops.
Source: BBC Chinese, February 2, 2023