The U.S. military could be granted access to more bases in the Philippines under a joint defence agreement between the two countries, the chief of the U.S. Indo-Pacific command said on Thursday after meeting the head of the Philippines armed forces.
China is likely to react negatively, having earlier this year accused Washington of “stoking the fire” when the Philippines increased the number of bases the U.S. military could use to nine.
The four additional sites approved were located close to potential flashpoints for China, as three faced north towards Taiwan and one was near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, where Manila and Beijing recently sparred over a disputed atoll.
U.S. Admiral John Aquilino said he and the Philippines’ military chief, Lieutenant General Romeo Brawner, discussed further expanding the number of bases U.S. forces could access under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and had made “recommendations to our senior leaders”.
The closer U.S. defence ties with the Philippines after a period of decline has caused concern in China.