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US seeks access Philippine military bases as it pivots to Asia

US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter (AFP photo)

The United States has asked the Philippines to provide access to eight military bases for rotating American troops, planes, and ships as Washington “pivots” to the Asia-Pacific region to curb China’s economic and military growth.

About eight areas in the Philippines have been identified as possible locations, where US soldiers, aircraft and ships will be rotated through a series of military training programs and exercises, said General Gregorio Catapang, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Four of the locations are on the main island of Luzon, where US and Filipino soldiers usually hold war games, two on the central Cebu island, and two more on the western island of Palawan.

Over 10,000 soldiers from the United States and the Philippines launched expanded war games last week, amid growing tensions in the Asia-Pacific region over China’s efforts to claim territory in the South China Sea.

During a speech at Arizona State University earlier this month, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter outlined Washington's next phase in its Asia rebalance strategy, which calls for the deployment of its most sophisticated bombers, destroyers and jet fighters to the region. 

The Obama administration is trying to keep its focus on a widely advertised shift to Asia, which it has pursued since 2011. The White House argues that no region is more important to the United States’ long-term interests than Asia.

A recent assessment by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, argues that the Obama administration’s Asia “pivot” has not been successful and American power and influence in the region has been declining.

Observers believe America’s efforts to increase its presence in the Asia-Pacific region is aimed at containing China.

China accuses Washington of meddling in the regional issues and deliberately stirring up tensions in the South China Sea.


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