With the United States recently singing a new security agreement with Australia President Obama announced on Wednesday that the United States does not fear china.
News of the Australian security agreement comes at a time when many politicians have grown weary of Beijing’s growing aggressiveness.
Announced during a joint news conference between President Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard the deal will position more U.S. personnel and equipment in the country while increasing American access to bases.
Under the plan 250 U.S. Marines will begin a new rotation in 2012 in the Northern Territory with an increase of 2,500 military personnel entering the region by 2016-2017.
In covering the deal U.S. officials were careful to point out that they were not attempting to create a permanent American military presence throughout Australia.
“It also allows us to meet the demands of a lot of partners in the region that want to feel that they’re getting the training, they’re getting the exercises, and that we have the presence that’s necessary to maintain the security architecture in the region,” Obama said.
On Thursday President Obama will speak to the Australian Parliament before flying to Darwin, a city where some of the Marines will be stationed in 2012.
When asked if the new agreement was meant to “contain China” President Obama said that the U.S. was attempting to send a clear message that China needs to accept the responsibility of being a world power. In his speech Obama revealed of China:
“It’s important for them to play by the rules of the road and in fact help underwrite the rules that have allowed so much remarkable economic progress to be made over the last several decades,” and “When China is playing by those rules, recognizing its new role, I think this is a win-win situation.”
Speaking directly about the “fear” of China the President said:
“I think the notion that we fear China is mistaken. The notion that we’re looking to exclude China is mistaken.”
Directly following Obama’s announcement China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said his people were discussing whether or not the increased military presence was in line with common interests that serve the international community.
In responding to Liu’s comments Obama national security aide Ben Rhodes said the increased U.S. presence was requested by various members of the international community who say the increased presence is a necessity as China continues to claim dominion over large swaths of the Pacific, areas the U.S. and other countries consider international waters.
Further concerns over China’s increase in military spending up to $160 billion last year along with the testing of new stealth jet fighters and the launch of the countries first aircraft carrier which launched this year helped lead to the increased military presence.
In speaking to Australian official President Obama said:
“Our alliance is going to be indispensable to our shared future, the security we need, and the prosperity that we seek, not only in this region but around the world,” while adding, “This is a region of huge importance to us. This is right up there at the top of my priority list. We are going to make sure that we are able to fulfil out leadership role in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Also included in their strengthened agreement will be increased space for U.S. aircraft including B52 bombers and jet fighters. Australian officials will also work to boost use of the Western Australia’s Stirling naval base for US vessels.
While President Obama says the United States does not fear China a special commission has asked that the Government Accountability Office evaluate the ability of the Pentagon’s early warning system. The argument is that the People’s Liberation Army (China’s military wing) is attempting to exploit weaknesses in a vast military network.
“The PLA’s military strategy is designed to provide the army with the means to defeat a technologically superior opponent, such as the U.S. military … degrading an opponent’s technological advantages and striking first in order to gain surprise.”
While U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has pushed for stronger diplomatic talks with China in recent years the U.S. recently backed a Philippines protest after China attempted to claim an island chain that has long been tied to the Philippines.
Do you believe that the United States military needs to expand into new territories to help slow the expansion of China’s territorial claims?