The Philippines has allowed the United States to set up four additional military bases in the country, providing U.S. forces with a strategic advantage on the South China Sea.
The expanded access to Philippines bases gives Washington a boost in its efforts to counter China, especially, to monitor the Chinese activities in the South China Sea and around self-ruled Taiwan.
Wednesday, the Philippines and the United States announced their plans to accelerate the full implementation of the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
Under the deal, four new locations have been designated for U.S. military bases. This is in addition to five U.S. bases that are already functioning in the East Asian archipelago.
The U.S. will complete a number of ongoing projects in the existing five bases.
The U.S. Government has allocated more than $82 million toward infrastructure investments at the existing five sites under the EDCA, supporting economic growth and job creation in local Philippine communities.
The two sides have committed to move quickly in agreeing to the necessary plans and investments for the new and existing EDCA locations.
The Pentagon did not specify the new four locations, but said they are in “strategic areas of the country.”
With this deal, the United States has completed a network of alliances with allied nations in the pacific arc, stretching across Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Australia.
The EDCA is a key pillar of the U.S.- Philippines alliance, which supports combined training, exercises, and interoperability between their forces.
“Expansion of the EDCA will make our alliance stronger and more resilient, and will accelerate modernization of our combined military capabilities,” the U.S. Defense Department said in a statement.
“The addition of these new EDCA locations will allow more rapid support for humanitarian and climate-related disasters in the Philippines, and respond to other shared challenges,” it said, in apparent reference to countering potential Chinese provocations in the region.
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