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Cracker Squire

THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Warily Eyeing China, Philippines May Invite U.S. Back to Subic Bay

From The New York Times:

SUBIC BAY, Philippines — In a flash of anticolonialist fervor nearly a quarter-century ago, lawmakers in the Philippines expelled the United States from an enormous naval base here, then the largest overseas outpost of the American military. Promising to break free from the “shackles of dictatorship,” they declared that foreign troops would never return.

But with China forcefully pressing its claim to a vast expanse of sea west of here, the Philippines is now debating whether to welcome the United States Navy back to the deepwater docks, airstrips and craggy shores of Subic Bay, which served as a haven for bruised battleships and weary soldiers during the Vietnam War.

It is also asking Washington for hundreds of millions of dollars in new funding to strengthen its own military, one of the weakest in Asia.

The change of heart is just one sign of the shifting strategic calculations in the region as President Xi Jinping of China has sought to reinforce Beijing’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea by turning reefs into islands and putting military facilities on them. Satellite photos taken last week appear to show China preparing to build a third airstrip on one of the new islands.
 
Last year, the government in Manila signed a 10-year agreement that would let the United States station troops, weapons and matériel at bases across the Philippines, setting the stage for an American return to several facilities, including Subic Bay and the sprawling Clark Air Base nearby. But the pact has been tied up by a legal challenge.
 
Filipinos, by a wide margin, hold favorable views of the United States, polls show. There is ambivalence, however, about allowing American troops to be stationed in the country — a concern amplified by the Philippines’ history as an American territory from 1898 to 1946 — and anxiety over how China might respond.
 
Washington has expressed frustration with the delay in carrying out the agreement, which President Obama announced with fanfare during a visit to Manila last year. The case is not expected to be decided in the Philippines Supreme Court until later this fall at the earliest.
 
If it goes forward, the pact would give the United States the ability to operate a stronghold on the shores of the South China Sea, less than 500 miles from the new islands built by the Chinese. Currently, American forces in the region rely largely on bases more than 1,500 miles away, in Japan and the United States territory of Guam, for repairs.

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