US to increase military presence in Australia

Questions raised over whether new security deal is designed to contain China's sea claims

President Barack Obama announced yesterday that the United States is to station thousands of Marines at a base in Darwin, a move widely viewed as a response to China's increasing bellicosity in the Pacific.

The plan was outlined by Mr Obama during a lightning visit to Australia, marking the 60th anniversary of a security pact between the two countries. Immediately, China questioned whether it was "in the interest of countries within this region" to intensify military alliances. Security analysts said it reflected the strategic "pivot" by the US away from the Middle East and the war on terror towards Asia, where China is seeking to usurp its long-standing dominance. Beijing claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea, and has reignited old territorial disputes, including over the potentially resource-rich Spratly and Paracel islands.

Northern Australia's proximity to the South China Sea, closer than US bases in Japan and South Korea, is part of its appeal, the head of the US Pacific Command, Admiral Robert Willard, said. Troops, aircraft and equipment stationed in Darwin, only 500 miles from Indonesia, could be deployed swiftly to trouble-spots around south-east Asia, as well as responding to humanitarian disasters.

Mr Obama, who arrived in Australia from the Apec (Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation) meeting in Hawaii and will travel on to the East Asia summit in Bali, sidestepped questions on whether the new security deal was designed to contain China. But he said Beijing had to accept the responsibilities that came with being a world power, and "play by the rules of the road".

At a news conference in Canberra with the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, he said: "The notion that we fear China is mistaken. The notion that we are looking to exclude China is mistaken. We welcome a rising, peaceful China." The US deployment to Australia, the largest since the Second World War, will begin next year, with about 250 Marines sent to Darwin on six-month rotations and troop numbers building to 2,500 by 2016.

Alan Dupont, director of the Centre for International Security Studies at the University of Sydney, believes the US is dispersing its forces in the Asia-Pacific, in particular, away from Japan and the US territory of Guam, which are within range of the new generation of Chinese ballistic missiles. China is Australia's largest trading partner, importing vast quantities of iron ore.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
News
Ireland will not find out whether gay couples have won the right to marry until Saturday afternoon
news
News
Kim Jong-un's brother Kim Jong-chol
news
News
Manchester city skyline as seen from Oldham above the streets of terraced houses in North West England on 7 April 2015.
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?