U.S. Sec. of Defense Austin Visits Philippines; Announces Larger Presence As China Deterrent

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During his trip to the Philippines, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made public his plans to expand the footprint of American military forces in the island nation. While the Philippines does not allow foreign military units to be permanently stationed on the island, American forces have had access to facilities on five Philippine military bases. The new agreement allows American forces access to four more camps. The Chinese government issued a response critical of the move, saying that it “escalates tensions in the region and endangers regional peace and stability.”  The Philippines, China, Taiwan, as well as Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have engaged in various territorial disputes over the prosperous South China Sea region.