US President Obama has angered China over his plans to expand the American military presence in Australia.
In an address to the Australian Parliament yesterday morning, Obama said he had ‘made a deliberate and strategic decision: as a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future’.
He added: ‘I have directed my national security team to make our presence and mission in the Asia-Pacific a top priority. The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay.
‘Indeed, we’re already modernising America’s defence posture across the Asia-Pacific.’
He stressed that ‘reductions in US defence spending will not, I repeat, will not come at the expense of the Asia-Pacific.’
The US president said the moves were not intended to isolate China, but they were an unmistakable sign that the United States had grown warier of its intentions.
Under his plan, by the end of 2012, 250 Marines will begin six-month rotations, building up to a force of 2,500.
US troops will train alongside Australian troops and live on Australian bases. In addition, the US Air Force will have additional access to Australian airfields.
Obama addressed US and Australian troops in Darwin yesterday, telling them: ‘We are deepening our alliance and this is the perfect place to do it.’