Tags: China | Trump Administration | palau | defense | south china sea | freedom of operation | military

Palau Offers US New Bases as Hedge Against China

Location Map of Palau on map Oceania and Australia. 3d Republic of Palau flag map marker location pin.
(Dreamstime)

By    |   Tuesday, 08 September 2020 05:06 PM

The Republic of Palau, which includes hundreds of islands in the Philippine Sea, has requested the Pentagon build ports, bases, and airfields on the island nation, a move that would allow the U.S. to enhance its military presence in Asia as President Donald Trump seeks to counter China's influence in the region.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the news, citing a letter sent from Palauan President Tommy Remengesau Jr. to Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

"Palau's request to the U.S. military remains simple — build joint-use facilities, then come and use them regularly," according to a copy of the letter reviewed by the Journal.

China claims about 90% of the South Sea, which is valued for fisheries and energy reserves. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam dispute those claims. The U.S. wants to keep the sea open for international use.

U.S. officials are eager to build relationships with partners in the region but have yet to respond.

"The government of Palau is not only receptive but is enthusiastic about the United States military broadening and deepening its operations, exercises, and training in and around Palau," said Heino Klinck, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, told the Journal in an interview.

Esper last week lauded a project in Palau where U.S. troops cleared vegetation and overgrowth through tropical forest to extend an airstrip for U.S. military and other aircraft to land.

"These are minor muscle movements that could lead, eventually, to a major muscle movement," Esper said after a visit there last week. "So you get small teams like this out there doing the groundwork, forging the diplomacy."

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The Republic of Palau, which includes hundreds of islands in the Philippine Sea, has requested the Pentagon build ports, bases, and airfields on the island nation, according to The Wall Street Journal.
palau, defense, south china sea, freedom of operation, military, bases
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2020-06-08
Tuesday, 08 September 2020 05:06 PM
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