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Australia tells China not to interfere
by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) Nov 18, 2011

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has assured China the boosting of US troops on Australian soil was not directed at Beijing while warning the country not to interfere in Canberra's security decisions.

US President Barack Obama announced in Canberra on Wednesday that the US would deploy up to 2,500 Marines in the northern city of Darwin in what many see as a counterbalance to China's growing might.

The US has viewed with concern China's increasing assertiveness in the region on territorial disputes, as have many of China's neighbours.

While Beijing's official reaction has been relatively mild, the country's state media has gone further, accusing Obama of trying to win votes by using his diplomatic ambitions in Asia to detract from his country's economic woes.

Rudd said China, whose voracious demand for natural resources has made it Australia's biggest trading partner, had been briefed about the announcement before it happened.

"It's fair to say from what you see from the Chinese foreign ministry that they have reservations about what we have done, but Australia will not be changing its position," Rudd told ABC television late Thursday.

"Number one position from us, and it's based in absolute reality, is that this enhanced set of arrangements with the United States are not directed at any one country," he said.

At the same time, Rudd, a Mandarin-speaking China expert and former prime minister, warned Beijing not to get involved in Australian policy decisions.

"Let's just be very blunt about it, we are not going to have our national security policy dictated by any other external power. That's a sovereign matter for Australia," he said.

"We don't seek to dictate to the Chinese what their national security policy should be. Therefore this must be advanced on the basis of mutual respect."

Rudd dismissed suggestions the arrangement with the US could make Australia a potential target if tensions flared in the South China Sea.

"It is simply imprudent and wrong to speculate publicly on what might or might not happen in given strategic contingencies in the future," he said.

The initial deployment of up to 250 Marines will occur from mid-2012 with the US planning to eventually send up to 2,500 troops to northern Australia as the two nations expand their 60-year military alliance.

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Pentagon chief calls India, China 'threats'
Groton, Connecticut (AFP) Nov 17, 2011 - US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta referred to India and China as "threats" on Thursday, but his spokesman quickly sought to clarify his remarks.

The Pentagon chief, speaking to workers at a Connecticut shipyard that builds attack submarines, described an array of threats facing the United States, including Iran, North Korea and cyber attacks.

He then strayed from standard US policy rhetoric by adding India and China to the list of security dangers, saying the United States would need to make clear to these "rising powers" that it would not be pulling out of the Pacific region.

"We face the threats from rising powers, China, India, others that we have to always be aware of, and try to make sure that we always have sufficient force protection out there in the Pacific to make sure they know we're never going anywhere," he said.

The US government never openly portrays China as a security threat, even though it frequently voices concern about Beijing's military buildup and assertive stance in the South China Sea.

As for India, US officials view the country as an increasingly vital ally and the Pentagon is anxious to bolster security ties.

Panetta's comments came at an awkward moment just as President Barack Obama was on a tour to promote a renewed US focus on the Asia-Pacific region, including a stepped up military presence.

Pentagon spokesman Captain John Kirby told reporters later that Panetta did not view China or India as military threats.

"Any suggestion that he was implying that either country was a military threat is just false," Kirby said.

"He was referring instead to the challenges these rising powers face within themselves, challenges that we share with them as we try to forge better relationships going forward in a very turbulent, dynamic security environment."


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Southeast Asia caught between US and China
Nusa Dua, Indonesia (AFP) Nov 17, 2011
Indonesia has warned deploying US Marines in Australia could cause regional tensions, highlighting the balancing act nations face as Washington and Beijing jostle for influence in Asia. China's regional neighbours welcome the United States' diplomatic campaign to assert itself as a Pacific power, and create a counterbalance to the Asian superpower's growing might, but can ill afford to alien ... read more

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