Army Building New Port Right On China’s Doorstep

Batanes, a strategically important province in the Philippines, will soon have a new civilian port built with the support of the United States Army.

Reports show Batanes Governor Marilou Cayco claimed that the Philippines was developing a U.S.-funded port to welcome fleeing Filipinos in the event of a confrontation involving China and Taiwan. China has pledged to take the self-governing area by whatever means necessary, claiming it as its own.

The idea will be discussed by officials from the U.S. Army when they visit next month, according to Cayco.

Last year, the archipelago province, fewer than 130 miles from Taiwan, was being considered by the US military for potential port facility construction.  Batanes’s strategic importance lies in its location near the Bashi Channel, which might be a stumbling block for Chinese troops trying to reach the open Pacific.

The United States counts the Philippines among its friends and partners that encircle China as a signatory to the United States Defense Treaty. Last year, expanded access to four U.S. military sites was announced as part of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Arrangement (EDCA) between the US and the Philippines.

Aiming to strengthen the American-Philippine alliance, the United States and the Philippines signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). This facilitates joint military drills, training, and cooperation between the two nations.

After the port is finished, whether a prolonged American military involvement is intended is unknown.

The Philippines is bolstering its defenses by constructing an isolated base on Mavulis Island and expanding the number of navy reservists stationed across the province.

The Philippines and other claimant governments are in a growing dispute over territory with China, which claims much of the South China Sea, including the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ).

Scarborough Shoal and the Kalayaan Island Group (located in the Spratly Islands’ northeastern sector) are part of the Philippines’ EEZ.

Reports show that the use of water cannons and blockades by Chinese marine troops against Philippine cargo convoys heading to a military station at Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands has intensified since last year.

Recent reports show tensions flared up again, leading to clashes and the destruction of a supply ship. According to Manila, some crew members were hurt when a Chinese water cannon cracked the ship’s glass.

The Philippine government will authorize a $35 billion budget over the next decade to strengthen its defenses.