The US military is in talks to build a Taiwan-facing port in the northernmost Philippine islands, Reuters reported on Thursday.
The proposed project would be in the Batanes islands, less than 125 miles from Taiwan. US involvement in the project would raise tensions with Beijing, as Washington is openly preparing for a future fight over Taiwan.
Earlier this year, Washington and Manila inked a deal that gives the US access to four more military bases in the Philippines, bringing the total number of US military facilities in the country to nine. Three of the new US bases will be in the northern Philippines, but not as far north as the Batanes.
Marilou Cayco, governor of Batanes, told Reuters that the purpose of the new project would be to build an “alternative port” for shipments from Manila during rough seas in the monsoon season. Cayco said that she approached the US to provide funding for the construction.
Two unnamed Philippine officials told Reuters that US troops had recently visited Batanes to discuss the potential new port. Cayco said a decision is expected to be made in October.
The US military’s involvement in the construction would likely guarantee its access to the port, giving the US another launch point to fight a potential war over Taiwan. The port would be on the Bashi Channel, a strategic waterway that separates the Philippines’ northern islands from Taiwan.