HAIKOU CITY, China – A Chinese think tank believes the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the US furthers American interests and not regional stability.
The state-run National Institute for South China Sea Studies said on Wednesday that China is “not happy” about the agreement that Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador Philip Goldberg signed in time for US President Barack Obama’s visit to Manila in April.
The agreement, which has been questioned at the Supreme Court, allows the increased rotational presence of US troops in the Philippines as well as limited access to Philippine military facilities, has been touted as a way to upgrade the Armed Forces of the Philippines and to bring stability to the area.
But Wu Shicun, president of the NISCSS, told Filipino reporters in Haikou on Wednesday that the agreement opens the door for US “intervention”. He said the agreement was signed because the “US would like to come back to major bases like Clark and Subic Bay to contend with China.”
Parties to the agreement have yet to determine which Philippine military installations will be opened up to US forces but activist groups in the Philippines have said the EDCA gives the US a free hand over Philippine territory.
The US has raised concerns over freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, which contains major sea and air routes. But Wu said the US is “using freedom of navigation as an excuse to interfere in the South China Sea” and to conduct “intelligence activities” along China’s coasts.
The Philippines and the US are treaty allies and the signing of the EDCA was seen as an affirmation of the long-standing ties between the two countries. — ELR, GMA News