US secured access to 4 more bases in Philippines
Desk Report || risingbd.com
The US has secured access to four additional military bases in the Philippines - a key bit of real estate which would offer a front seat to monitor the Chinese in the South China Sea and around Taiwan.
With the deal, Washington has stitched the gap in the arc of US alliances stretching from South Korea and Japan in the north to Australia in the south, reports BBC.
The missing link had been the Philippines, which borders two of the biggest potential flashpoints - Taiwan and the South China Sea.
The deal, which in part reverses the US' departure from their former colony more than 30 years ago, is no small matter.
"There is no contingency in the South China Sea that does not require access to the Philippines," says Gregory B Poling, director of the Southeast Asia programme at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
"The US is not looking for permanent bases. It's about places, not bases."
The US already had limited access to five sites under the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) - the new additions and expanded access, according to a statement from Washington, will "allow more rapid support for humanitarian and climate-related disasters in the Philippines, and respond to other shared challenges", likely a veiled reference to countering China in the region.
The statement came after US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met Philippine President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr in Manila on Thursday.
The US hasn't said where the new bases are but three of them could be on Luzon, an island on the northern edge of the Philippines, the only large piece of land close to Taiwan - if you don't count China.