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The US and the Philippines' military agreement sends a warning to China – 5 key things to know

Michael A. Allen, Professor of Political Science, Boise State University, Michael E. Flynn, Associate Professor of Political Science, Kansas State University, and Carla Martinez Machain, Professor of Political Science, University at Buffalo, The Conversation on

Published in News & Features

The United States and the Philippines announced on Feb. 2, 2023, that the U.S. is expanding its military presence across more military bases in the Southeast Asian country, giving the U.S. a potential advantage in its efforts to thwart China’s possible efforts to take control of Taiwan.

The Philippines’ most northern island sits about 118 miles (190 kilometers) from Taiwan.

While Taiwan, an island off the coast of China, considers itself an independent country, China maintains that it is a breakaway province it wants to again control and has increased its threats to move to overtake it in recent months.

We are political science scholars and U.S. foreign policy experts who recently published a book about U.S. overseas military deployments. Here is what this new agreement means for the U.S. foreign policy and rising military tensions in East and Southeast Asia.

The military agreement is an expansion of a 2014 deal called the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

The new pact signed this week allows the U.S. to access four additional military bases in the Philippines and maintain equipment on those bases. In addition, the agreement calls for the U.S. to spend US$82 million on infrastructure investments at the five bases currently in use.


Now, the U.S. will have access to nine base sites in the Philippines, representing its most expansive military presence in the country in 30 years.

The deal follows an October 2022 announcement that the U.S. was giving $100 million to the military in the Philippines.

In recent years, China has increased its overseas military presence in the South China Sea and has begun expanding its military footprint in other regions, including countries in Africa, where it previously had none. China continues to seek new foreign locations to host its own troops.

In 2022, for example, China signed a new military deal with the Solomon Islands, leading to speculation that it could eventually establish a permanent military base there.


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