Saturday, November 19, 2011

US military pact raises tensions with China

Source: Press TV

The Chinese premier has warned against external interference in a dispute over the South China Sea, fuelled by Australia's new military pact with the U.S., as world leaders prepare to discuss the issue in Bali.

Under the plan, announced in Canberra on Wednesday, up to 250 U.S. marines will train for six months at a time in the Northern Territory, just 800 kilometers from Indonesia, rising to a full 2500-strong Marine Air Ground Task Force by 2016. AAP


In a ratcheting up of tensions on Friday, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao issued a warning against U.S. involvement in the South China Sea dispute. AAP

"External forces should not use any excuse to interfere," he said. AAP

China has saved some of its strongest rebukes for Australia for its part in agreeing to the plan. The state-run People's Daily newspaper lambasted the scheme, warning Australian leaders against getting in the middle of a conflict. globalpost

"Australia surely cannot play China for a fool. It is impossible for China to remain detached, no matter what Australia does to undermine its security," the paper wrote in an editorial. "If Australia uses its military bases to help the U.S. harm Chinese interests, then Australia itself will be caught in the crossfire." globalpost

"The placement of 2,500 U.S. mariners in Darwin would create new tension in ASEAN which has been known as peace zone, not a conflict zone," said TB Hasanuddin, vice-chairman of Indonesian parliament's Commission I that oversees security and foreign affairs policy.


Darwin, nicknamed the "Pearl Harbor of Australia" after a World War Two Japanese raid dropped more bombs on the city than those on Pearl Harbor, will give the U.S. military open access to East Asia sea lanes and the Indian Ocean. News24

Australia says hosting U.S. troops and the pre-positioning of U.S. supplies in Darwin is not the precursor to a U.S. base, but analysts say rotating more than 2,000 U.S. marines in and out of the northern port city, and more frequent U.S. naval visits, will give Washington a de facto base. News24

The winding down of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has opened the door to greater U.S. attention to simmering tension over the South China Sea, a shipping lane for more than $5 trillion in annual trade that the United States wants to keep open. News24

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