A new US-Philippines deal will provide American military access to four more bases in the strategically important country, amid mounting concern over China's increasing assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea and tensions over Taiwan.
Prior to the new deal being signed, Philippines Defense Minister Carlito Galvez and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin held a private meeting where both leaders discussed ways in which the US and the Philippines can build a stronger alliance.
"President Biden has made clear America's commitment to the defence of the Philippines is iron clad, our alliance makes both of our democracies more secure and helps uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific," Austin said during a press briefing in Manilla on Thursday.
The new agreement will see four additional locations spread across the Philippines, under the US-Philippines Enhanced Defense Co-operation Agreement (EDCA), which was initially signed in 2014.
The latest addition to the deal will increase the United State's military presence to a total of nine key strategic areas.
The US defense secretary made it clear that the US was "not seeking a permanent basing" in the Philippines through the EDCA, instead, Washington was looking at access and the opportunity for the US to increase its training and humanitarian and disaster relief activities within the wider region.
Referencing China's increased presence in waters close to the Philippines and the reason for the new deal, Austin said: "That's just part of our efforts to modernise our alliance.
"And these efforts are especially important as the People's Republic of China continues to advance its illegitimate claims in the West Philippine Sea."
When pressed as to the intended location of the latest four sites, Philippines Defense Minister Carlito Galvez refused to identify the new locations, saying they are still consulting with local officials as to the suitability of the proposed sites.
A statement released by the United States Department of Defense, confirms, as part of the agreement, Washington has contributed $82m (£67m) towards infrastructure investments at the existing five sites under the EDCA.