23 April 2014
Philippines to facilitate US reassertion of military presence in Asia
US President Obama is expected to announce an agreement with the Philippines, that would offer American ships and planes the most extensive access to bases in the region, since 1992, when the US relinquished its naval installation at Subic Bay. The agreement would be the centerpiece of Obama’s visit to Asia this week.
The New York Times reports that such an agreement could antagonise China, which is locked in a dispute with the Philippines over Scarborough Shoal, a fishing ground now occupied by Chinese vessels. Like the 2011 agreement to deploy Marines to Darwin, Australia, such a presence would theoretically give America more capacity to help its allies in territorial disputes with the Chinese.
However, while Washington is obliged to defend the Philippines against attack, the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951 is silent with regards to clashes over disputed territories, like the Scarborough Shoal.