The United States is seeking to strengthen its presence in the Indo-Pacific region. A US commander said the country is considering asking the Philippines to further expand US access to military bases in the Philippines under the defense agreement between the two nations.
Admiral John Aquilino, Commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command held a joint press conference with the Philippines' military chief Romeo Brawner on Thursday.
Under the defense agreement, Manila increased the number of bases accessible to the US military from five to nine this year. The bases face the South China Sea and Taiwan.
China criticized the move, calling it "provocative." Aquilino stressed the US is seeking access to more locations. "General Brawner and I made recommendations to our senior leaders for the consideration of additional sites, but there's still work to do there," he said.
Aquilino and Brawner earlier visited three of the military bases in the northern part of the country.
China has been increasingly wary of US military presence in the region. But Brawner said the main purpose of the agreement is training and disaster response. He says it has nothing to do with regional security threats.