The U.S. and Malaysia have been secretly discussing expanded use of Malaysian territory for hosting U.S. spy planes to patrol the South China Sea, in response to increased Chinese activity in the disputed territory.
Following a series of incursions into Malaysian waters by Chinese vessels in recent months, talks between the U.S. government and the office of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak have intensified, two senior U.S. defense officials said. The U.S. side has been pressing Najib's government to allow the U.S. Navy to fly both P-8 Poseidon and P-3 Orion maritime surveillance planes from Malaysian airstrips over South China Sea areas where the Chinese government has been rapidly building artificial islands.
There has been no final agreement between the two governments, but the talks themselves represent a shift of Malaysia’s long effort to straddle the fence between the U.S. and China.
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