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HomeEnvironmentExplainer: Why U.S. seeks closer security cooperation with the Philippines

Explainer: Why U.S. seeks closer security cooperation with the Philippines

WASHINGTON/MANILA (Reuters) – Amid mounting tensions with China over Taiwan, the Biden administration is the latest high-level engagement with Asia’s oldest ally and increasingly important strategic partner. US Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Philippines this week as part of the

Below are some of the main issues surrounding her visit.

Why is the Philippines so important to America?

The Philippines was once a US colony and became a US treaty ally in 1951, five years after independence. During the Cold War, it hosted some of America’s largest overseas bases and was an integral part of America’s wars in Korea and Vietnam. Filipino nationalism forced Washington to remove them in the 1990s, but in recent years the allies have worked together on counter-terrorism and the threat of China’s military pressure in the South China Sea, where the Philippines has rival claims. It is suitable for rising.

Today, because of its geographic location, the Philippines is central to the United States’ plans to deter and respond to Chinese attacks on Taiwan.

Tensions over Taiwan expected to rise when Harris meets President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday told Reuters.

Harris is also planning a very iconic stop in the Philippine Islands Palawan In the South China Sea to show US support for our allies.

How does this country fit into US plans for a possible conflict over Taiwan?

Of the five treaty allies of the United States in the Indo-Pacific—Australia, South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Thailand—the Philippines is the closest to Taiwan, with the northernmost landmass of Luzon only 200 kilometers (120 miles) away.

Experts such as Randall Schreiber, who served as the Pentagon’s senior East Asia official in the Trump administration, say Luzon is of great interest to the U.S. Army, particularly as a potential site for rocket, missile and artillery systems. Told. Counter the Taiwan landing operation.

He called for closer ties with China during President Rodrigo Duterte’s six-year presidency, after a difficult period in relations, the political environment for greater military access under Marcos He said it seemed to be improving.

Washington has been cautiously courting Marcos, and Harris’ visit follows two meetings between President Joe Biden and Marcos and Secretary of State Anthony Brinken’s visit to Manila in August.

How are Washington and Manila stepping up security cooperation?

both sides have moved forward With enhanced defense cooperation agreements that have waned under Duterte, dating back to Obama’s presidency. The EDCA permits the United States access to military bases in the Philippines for joint training, prepositioning of equipment, and construction of facilities such as runways, fuel depots, and military housing, but not a permanent presence. I don’t.

It remains unclear to what extent the Philippines will allow the use of its territory to defend Taiwan. Romualdez, the ambassador to Washington and a relative of Marcos, said in September that in the event of a conflict in Taiwan, the US military would use the base “only when it is important to us and for our own safety.” said to allow it.

The United States is proposing to add five more EDCA sites to the current five EDCA sites. Gregory Poling, a Southeast Asia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said Harris’ visit could result in an announcement of the deal.

How will the Taiwan conflict affect the Philippines?

Poling believes it would be very difficult to remain neutral in the Taiwan conflict, given the Philippines’ close proximity to the island and its treaty obligations to the United States. Approximately 150,000 Filipinos living on the island would be endangered by Chinese attacks.

“They’re making promises to Americans under the alliance,” Pauling said. “If you want US help in the South China Sea, the US will want Philippine help in Taiwan.”

What would the Philippines expect in return?

Mr. Schreiber said Washington hopes to guarantee access within the next year or two because Pentagon concerns over a possible attack on Taiwan are growing, but there is no clear indication of Taiwan’s emergency. plans are very sensitive to Manila.

Poling said it was important to provide Manila with adequate funding to help modernize its long-neglected military.Washington recently announced $100 million foreign military funds and $66.5 million But the amount is small compared to what Washington sends to the Middle East and Ukraine.

“The Philippines’ second demand is a continued and unequivocal commitment to protect Filipinos in the South China Sea,” Poling said. “They have it rhetorically, but the question on both sides is whether they have it functionally. Can we actually do something about it? And that’s a long way off. This is another reason why EDCA is so important, although it’s not very clear.”

China claims 90% of the South China Sea as sovereign territory, a claim opposed by five Southeast Asian countries and Taiwan.

Reported by David Brunnstrom and Karen Lema. Edited by Don Durfee and Grant McCool

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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