US Just Made a Move to Counter China

US forces get access to 4 more sites in the Philippines
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 2, 2023 11:30 AM CST
US Just Made a Move to Counter China
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, walks past military guards in Quezon City, Philippines, on Thursday.   (Rolex Dela Pena/Pool Photo via AP)

The US has struck a military deal with the Philippines in what the New York Times and the Washington Post see as a clear move to counter China's might in the region. Defense chief Lloyd Austin and Philippines leader Ferdinand Marcos Jr. announced Thursday that US forces will have access to four more locations—they're not calling them "bases"—in the nation. That brings the total to nine and will raise the American military presence in the nation to its highest level since the 1990s.

A big reason reason why becomes clear in a stat noted by the Times: The northernmost part of the Philippines is only about 90 miles away from Taiwan. Fears are growing that China will invade Taiwan—and more generally assert its dominance over neighbors in the entire Asia-Pacific region—and the ramped-up US presence could act as a deterrent. "It's a really big deal," said Austin, while Marcos (without mentioning China) declared that the "future of the Philippines, and for that matter the Asia-Pacific region, will always involve the United States," per the Post.

Beijing's view? "The US has adhered to a Cold War zero-sum mentality and strengthened military deployment in the region," complained Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning, per the AP. "This is an act that escalates tensions in the region and endangers regional peace and stability." The deal with the Philippines completes what the BBC describes as a US "arc" outside China, stretching from Japan and South Korea in the north to Australia in the south. "The missing link had been the Philippines, which borders two of the biggest potential flashpoints—Taiwan and the South China Sea," the outlet notes. (More US military stories.)

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