President Marcos Jr. Says US Could Use Philippine Military Bases if Beijing Attacks Taiwan
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Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. announced Thursday that his country could let the U.S. use its military bases to respond in the event of a Chinese attack on Taiwan.
The statement came after a four-day state visit to the U.S. in which Marcos met with President Joe Biden on Monday hoping to strengthen ties with the U.S. amid Beijing's growing aggression in the Asia Pacific region.
The heads of state reaffirmed the strong alliance between their two countries. A major highlight came with the signing of a new defense agreement to help the Philippines better respond to the People's Republic of China's continued aggression in the South China Sea.
Biden assured Marcos, "The United States remains ironclad in our commitment to the defense of the Philippines, including the South China Sea, and we will continue to support the Philippines' military modernization goals."
Marcos admitted his concern over China's continuous provocation.
"There are also the issues, geopolitical issues that have made the region where the Philippines is possibly, arguably the most complicated geopolitical situation in the world right now. And so it is only natural that — for the Philippines to look to its sole treaty partner in the world to strengthen and to redefine the relationship that we have and the roles that we play in the face of those rising tensions that we see now around the South China Sea and Asia Pacific and Indo-Pacific regions," Marcos said.
The agreement builds on the recent joint military exercises between the two countries in which roughly 18,000 U.S. troops participated.
Beijing found this provocative and warned the Philippines about the decision to expand U.S. military presence in the country.
The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement allows American forces to establish military and surveillance outposts in the northern Philippines across from Taiwan and in provinces facing the South China Sea.
Spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Col. Medel Aguilar, said, "We abide by the President's foreign policy. The Philippines is friends to all and enemy to no one. All activities with other countries are solely for strengthening of our capabilities. This is also aligned to his second policy that he will protect whatever is within the sovereignty of our country."
Only days before Marcos left for Washington, China reached out to him through its Foreign Minister Qin Gang who met with him in Manila. Qin said China was willing to work with the Philippines to resolve their differences.
This remains to be seen, however, since China has taken no action to address its constant bullying against the Philippine coastguards and Filipino fishermen in the disputed territory.
Marcos has sought to improve relations with the United States that soured under his predecessor, former President Rodrigo Duterte.
In a joint statement, the leaders of the U.S. and the Philippines said they would work as allies on efforts promoting inclusive and broad-based prosperity, investing in the clean energy transition, fighting climate change, upholding international peace and stability, and ensuring respect for human rights and the rule of law.
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