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US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin secured an agreement from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to restore a key pact allowing military exercises between the two countries to continue. The move is seen as a vital move by the USA to “counterbalance” a growingly aggressive and assertive China as fears rise of what Xi Jinping could do next in the South China Sea. DW News reporter JC Gotinga explained how the important agreement will mean the USA “maintain a considerable military presence” in Asia.
The reporter said: “Looking at the broader picture of where the Philippines finds itself in terms of its geopolitics at the moment.
“It is to be considered largely a win for the Philippines in terms of its credible defence posture.
“And it’s ability to stand up to any possible agression from China.”
He explained how the US is the Philippines’ only ally sworn in by a military treaty.
The US Navy will be able to patrol the South China Sea more efficiently with the new deal (Image: Getty Images)
Concerns are rising as China ramps up its Navy presence in the South China Sea (Image: Getty Images)
Mr Gotinga added how the treaty, which is called the Visiting Forces Agreement, allows for military exercises between the two countries.
Alongside exercises, the agreement also allows the US to “maintain a considerable military presence in the Philippines” which he said would otherwise be prohibited.
He added: “Experts agree the Visiting Forces Agreement ‘gives teeth’ to the alliance between the Philippines and the US.
“Which means without it, even if there is that alliance on paper, should there be any need for the United States to come to the Philippines in a military sense…
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Xi Jinping has set about claiming vast swathes of the South China Sea as his own (Image: Getty Images)
“It will be very difficult to do so given that the nearest base of the US would probably Japan, Guam or Hawaii.
“As opposed to having its troops and some of its assets already in place in the Philippines.”
It comes as US naval presence in the Indo-Pacific is seen by many Southeast Asian states as a “counterbalance” to a rising China.
Beijing has claimed sovereignty over large parts of the nearby South China Sea where it has constructed artificial islands for its navy and air force.
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President Duterte needs the support of the US (Image: Getty Images)
Secretary Austin said his visit was meant to underscore the importance of the relationship with the Philippines, which is the US’s oldest ally in Asia.
The news comes as Beijing has blasted Britain as a “bi*ch” that is “asking for a beating” as HMS Queen Elizabeth and her carrier group entered the South China Sea.
The bizarre attack follows an ongoing dispute between Britain and China which has reached new heights as British Navy warships sail into the disputed territories to carry out operations as a show of western strength to China.
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times, suggested the warships are part of “provocations” against China, saying: “To say it precisely, if the UK wants to play the role to coerce China in the South China Sea, then it is being a bi*ch.”