Voicing security concerns and the increased military influence of China, Australia and President Obama have reached an agreement, which will deploy a company of US Marines, approximately 250 personnel, into Australia. The contingent is expected to grow to 2,500 eventually. China is not to thrilled with the prospect and a communist party controlled editorial warned that it was “certain” that if “Australia uses its military bases to help the US harm Chinese interests, then Australia itself will be caught in the crossfire”.
The move is seen as a shift by the Obama Administration from the Middle East to Asia.
Obama is on an official visit to Australia and will visit a memorial in Darwin to honour US and Australian soldiers killed during World War II. After his stop in Darwin, the President will travel to Indonesia, where he will attend a summit with Asian leaders.
Australia has agreed to host a full US Marine task force in the coming years, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced at a news conference with US President Barack Obama in Canberra.She said about 250 US Marines would arrive next year, eventually being built up to 2,500 personnel.
The deployment is being seen as a move to counter China’s growing influence.
But Mr Obama said the US was “stepping up its commitment to the entire Asia-Pacific”, not excluding China.
“The main message that I’ve said, not only publicly but also privately to China, is that with their rise comes increased responsibility,” he said.
“It is important for them to play by the rules of the road.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin questioned whether the move was in keeping with the region’s peaceful development.