On Friday, March 18, 2016 the U.S. State Department granted the Pentagon permission to open five new bases in the Philippines. The U.S. struck a deal with the Filipino government officials in Manila and was called the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, according to the Washington Post. The new bases are called the Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base, Fort Magsaysay, Basa Air Base, Lumbia Air Base and Antonio Bautista Air Base.
The news source stated that some believe the opening of the bases was inspired in part by the increasing level of Chinese military activity in the South China Sea. However, John Kirby, a State Department spokesperson, told the Washington Post that the move was more about improving relations with the Phillippines.
"It's not about selling it to the Chinese or to anybody," Kirby said. "It's about meeting our security commitments in a serious alliance with the Philippines. That's what this is about."
The Chinese government responded by stating their disapproval of the increased American presence. Officials have declared that improving relations with one country "should not harm the sovereignty or security interests of any other country," as reported by the news source.