These facilities include shipbuilding, airstrip repair and military bases in the Philippines, ready to defend the Philippines and support the island of Taiwan, located north of the Philippines, in case of any Chinese invasion of the island.
The news came in a report by the Hong Kong newspaper “South China Morning Post” published on Monday.
- The Philippines has asked the US to help build a ship and repair an airstrip at the Camilo Osias naval base in northern Cagayan province, which is accessible to Washington under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed between the two countries in 2014.
- These bases are very close to southern Taiwan and, if strengthened and developed, could be focal points if a conflict with China erupts.
- There are plans to add a fuel storage facility and command center at Lal Lo Airport, Cagayan.
- US Indo-Pacific Command Commander Adm. John Aquilino and Armed Forces of the Philippines Commander Romeo Browner Jr. inspected the two sites this month to discuss increasing the number of sites Americans can access under the deal.
Mutual Defense Agreement
The EDCA agreement is a joint defense agreement that allows the US military to rotate forces for long periods of time in 5 locations in the country, located across from China, separated only by the waters of the South China Sea, and allowing Washington to build and operate facilities. For American and Philippine forces.
In February, the Philippines extended an agreement to give the Americans access to four other military bases, including Camilo Osias Naval Base and Lal Lu Airport, north of the country toward southern Taiwan.
The Philippines and the United States have agreed that the Camilo Osias base and Lal Lu airport could play an important role in the event of an armed conflict between China and Taiwan. Forces operating there would have immediate access to defend Taiwan’s southern flank and prevent Chinese incursions into the Philippine Sea through the Bashi Channel.
The Philippines has been under military pressure from China, including incidents in recent months in which Chinese ships blocked Philippine Coast Guard vessels from reaching disputed islands.
Since August 2022, former Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has seen a serious crisis between Beijing and Washington, which China accuses of supporting Washington in its “separatist efforts”. It is bracing for the possibility of a US-China conflict in the region, particularly if Beijing invades Taiwan.
In light of this situation, political analyst Jasser Matar explains to Sky News Arabia the implications of recent US action in the Philippines, which is close to Taiwan and the Chinese mainland:
- The Philippines has bases closest to Taiwan, which is the gateway to the south of the island.
- The US wants to build up a military base at every point close to Taiwan. Supporting Ukraine in the event of a Chinese invasion, as it did in neighboring Poland.
- Also, the intensity of the US presence and the development of military infrastructure in the Philippines contribute to the defense of Manila, which could be vulnerable to military action if a conflict breaks out over Taiwan.
- This creates a crisis for China; The United States prepared Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines to defend Taiwan.
- Washington, for its part, is betting that increasing the armaments of these allies and intensifying its presence on their lands will deter China from attacking Taiwan. So don’t open more than one front.
- However, if a conflict breaks out in the South China Sea, it will be multilateral, not just between two countries.
The US Defense Secretary, who visited Manila last February, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the Philippines in the event of any attacks, as per the Mutual Defense Treaty.
“We have indicated that the mutual defense agreement applies to armed attacks on our armed forces, public vessels or aircraft anywhere in the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea,” he said at a news conference in Austin. With his Filipino, Carlito Galvez.