US Military Eyes Taiwan-Facing Port in Philippines
The US military is considering building a Taiwan-facing port in the northernmost islands of the Philippines, according to a report by Reuters, citing government and armed forces officials.
The new facility would reportedly allow Washington easy strategic access to the self-ruled island, which China considers a “breakaway province.”
The proposed port in the Batanes islands is less than 200 kilometers (125 miles) from Taipei for potential US military intervention in case Beijing invades the island nation.
Batanes governor Marilou Cayco told Reuters that she has already sought funding from the US to build the facility for “unloading cargo from Manila during rough seas in monsoon season.”
The US is expected to make a decision on the proposed port in October.
‘A Choke Point’The waterway between the Batanes islands and Taiwan is considered a “choke point” for vessels moving between the Pacific and the South China Sea.
The Taiwanese defense ministry has said the Chinese military regularly sends ships and aircraft through the area to monitor movements.
Washington’s involvement in a potential Taiwan-facing port could heighten tensions in the region.
Earlier this year, Beijing promised a resolute response to a high-level meeting between US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen.
It also warned Washington of countermeasures to President Joe Biden sending a $1.1-billion arms package to Taiwan last year to boost its defense capabilities.
Strategic LocationAccording to military observers, the Philippines holds strategic importance for Taipei in case of a Chinese invasion.
A “crucial ally,” Manila could serve as the island nation’s resupply point considering their proximity.
It could also house some Taiwanese fighter jets to protect them from Chinese missiles.
However, Philippine Secretary of National Defense Gilbert Teodoro rejected cooperation with Taiwan, saying it would “disregard” a core Chinese issue.