The US and Australia announced a new security agreement today, seen by many as a response to China’s growing power, but President Obama insisted that “the notion that we fear China is mistaken.” Under the agreement, the US military presence will be expanded, with about 250 Marines heading to Australia next year. Ultimately 2,500 US military personnel will be based there, and the US will have increased equipment and access to Australian bases. But officials are calling it a “sustained” military presence, not a permanent one, the AP notes.
Obama, who is making his first visit to Australia as president, said the agreement “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.” Other nations in the region, including smaller Asian nations, have been concerned about China’s increasing power in international waters. According to the Wall Street Journal, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson responded by calling for discussion of whether the agreement is appropriate and “in accordance with … the whole international society’s interests.”