China’s envoy has accused the Philippines of “stoking the fire” of regional tensions by granting the United States expanded military base access to its territories through the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

During the 8th Manila Forum on Philippine-China Relations held on Friday, April 14th, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian claimed that this move would allow the US to interfere with China’s affairs with Taiwan, which would only serve its own geopolitical goals.

“Facts speak louder than words. Obviously, the US intends to take advantage of the new EDCA sites to interfere in the situation across the Taiwan Strait to serve its geopolitical goals and advance its anti-China agenda at the expense of peace and development of the Philippines and the region at large,” he said.

Huang went on to warn the Philippines that the safety and welfare of the thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in Taiwan might be put at stake if the country does not express opposition to the independence of the island country, which is also being claimed by China.

“The Philippines is advised to unequivocally oppose ‘Taiwan independence’ rather than stoking the fire by offering the US access to the military bases near the Taiwan Strait, if you genuinely care about the 150,000 OFWs,” Huang said.

The Philippines recently identified four new bases that US forces could use under the 2014 agreement. Three of these are strategically located and face north towards Taiwan, while two are located near the disputed islands in the South China Sea.

The accusations of Huang come amidst heightened tensions in the South China Sea, with China aggressively asserting its territorial claims, and the US continuing its freedom of navigation operations in the disputed waters.