US, Philippines agree on 4 US military bases and enhanced defense
The establishment of the bases comes following a scare by a senior Air Force general claiming that a war with China is inevitable by 2025.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin convened with his Philippine counterpart Carlito Galvez Jr. on Thursday with the aim to fortify ties and enhance defense cooperation.
During a press conference after his meeting in Manila, Galvez said, "Secretary Austin and I have also agreed to deepen bilateral cooperation to support the Philippines' defense capability needs as well as the Philippines-US alliance."
Galvez assured that joint efforts would be strengthened regarding security threats and challenges in the Asia-Pacific region, especially with heightened tensions between the US and China over Taiwan.
Austin expressed in response that he was optimistic about the joint collaborations between both countries, as he stated, "I am confident that we will continue to work together to defend our shared values of freedom, democracy, and human dignity,"
Read more: US unprepared for potential war with China: Study
As part of the tour, Austin got the green light from the Philippines to establish four more military bases, also as part of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). This brings the total number of EDCA sites to nine bases.
Aiming 'for the head'
The establishment of the bases, and perhaps Austin's tour in Asia, comes following the scare by a senior Air Force general claiming that a war with China is inevitable by 2025.
The Washington Post announced on Monday that the potential expansion “involves access to Philippine military bases, likely including two on the northern island of Luzon,” which “could give US forces a strategic position from which to mount operations in the event of a conflict in Taiwan or the South China Sea.”
The tour was described by Chinese news outlet Global Times as “Washington's latest effort to beef up military integration that targets China in the western Pacific, especially in a cost-effective way of using "allies" as its disposable pawns.”
China was illustrated by the Pentagon last week as the “pacing challenge of the Department of Defense,” and top Air Force General Michael Minihan wrote in a memo to airmen, “My gut tells me we will fight in 2025,” as he called to “aim for the head” when attacking the Chinese forces because “unrepentant lethality matters most.”
Read next: DPRK vows 'toughest reaction' to US militarization of peninsula