The announcement last week that the U.S. is doubling its foreign aid to the Philippines came as the U.S. ally remains locked in a maritime standoff with China over a territorial dispute in the South China Sea. In an email interview, Richard D. Fisher, Jr., a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, discussed U.S.-Philippines military cooperation.
WPR: In what concrete ways is U.S.-Philippines military cooperation being expanded in response to the Philippines' territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea?
Richard D. Fisher, Jr.: After nearly 20 years of U.S. and mainly Philippine indifference following the rancorous exit of U.S. forces from Philippine bases in 1991, there is now an active bilateral dialogue about expanding conventional military cooperation. The change is due in no small part to China’s belligerence and the new pragmatic attitude of Philippine President Benigno Aquino. Though concrete agreements have not been announced, there has been discussion of Washington easing Philippine acquisition of new defense equipment and a more frequent “rotation” of some U.S. forces through Philippine bases that does not constitute “basing.”