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US is all in a “Pacific power”, Obama tells Australia (and China)

Thursday, November 17th 2011 - 07:20 UTC
Full article 30 comments
Obama addressing the Australian parliament Obama addressing the Australian parliament

President Barack Obama said that the Asia-Pacific region will play a key role in defining the world's future. “The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay,” he stated in a speech to the Australian Parliament, sending a clear message to Beijing.

His comments came after Australia agreed to host a full US Marine taskforce in the coming years. China has questioned the move, which many analysts see as being a counter to Beijing's growing influence.

Speaking in Canberra, Mr Obama said the US was now turning its attention to the region. “Let there be no doubt: in the Asia-Pacific in the 21st century, the United States of America is all in,” he said.

Mr Obama said that given its size, resources and the economic growth that the region had witnessed in recent years, Asia-Pacific countries were playing an increasingly important role globally.

“With most of the world's nuclear powers and some half of humanity, Asia will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked by conflict or co-operation, needless suffering or human progress.”

“As a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future by upholding core principles and in close partnership with our allies and friends.”

Mr Obama continued by saying that, as the world's biggest economy, the US was keen to increase its presence in the region and play a bigger role in its development and progress.

At the same time he told the Australian Parliament that the US was working towards getting its own economy back on track. He said the US had taken some hard decisions to cut its deficit and will continue to do more to ensure that growth rebounded.

Mr Obama underlined that the alliance between the US and Australia was an indispensable one and had never been stronger.

However, the growing proximity - especially a bigger US military presence in Australia - has not gone down well with China.

The US president used his speech in Canberra to emphasise a willingness to co-operate with Beijing and improve communication between the superpowers.

“We've seen that China can be a partner, from reducing tensions on the Korean peninsula, to preventing proliferation,” he said.

“We'll seek more opportunities for co-operation with Beijing, including greater communication between our militaries, to promote understanding and avoid miscalculation.”

However, Mr Obama called upon the authorities in Beijing to change their policies as well.

“We will do this, even as [we] continue to speak candidly with Beijing about the importance of upholding international norms and respecting the universal human rights of the Chinese people,” he added.

The agreement to increase the US military presence in Australia comes at a time when nations in the region are becoming wary of China's growing military might and its domination of the Pacific waters.

Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that maintaining peace and stability in the region was crucial to its economic growth and success. She added that the partnership between Australia and the US had been a “bedrock of stability” in the region.

There were concerns that as the US try to cut its defence spending in a bid to reduce its debt it might reduce its presence in the region. But Obama tried to quell those fears, saying that he remained committed to the region.

“Reductions in US defence spending will not, I repeat, will not come at the expense of the Asia-Pacific” he said.

“My guidance is clear - as we plan and budget for the future we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region.

”We will preserve our unique ability to project power and deter threats to peace.

”We will keep our commitments, including our treaty obligations to allies like Australia, and we will constantly strengthen our capabilities to meet the needs of the 21st century”. (BBC)

Top Comments

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  • briton

    The Americans have been warning the Europeans that they would move to the pacific, even the experts warned them, that America would move heavily into the pacific,
    And that the Europeans would have to defend themselves, as they should have been doing in the first place, instead of relying on the Americans more and more, while reducing their own military,

    Great Britain said at the time, they would keep the status quoe, but failed to do this, with the destruction of the latest ships / planes / tanks . /men, we reap what we sow,
    If Europe descends into ?????? then the British will have to get Cameron off his bum, and force him to make a stand, Britain , stays in, and goes with them,
    Or withdraw us, and let us restart again, and leave them to it, the American just cant waste any more time with fools who wont make their mind up,
    Good on America, Justa thought .

    Nov 17th, 2011 - 06:26 pm 0
  • MarkWhelan

    It would be good to see the USA as a Strategic Partner with the Western Pacific region. But the big bully attitude has some worried. New Zealand lets US Ships in only since they agreed to inform the NZ Govt know if any nuclear materials were aboard. NZ has a Nuclear Free Policy. Australia has signed a Pact condemning cluster bombs. Some in Australia have concerns about the possible transport to and storage of these weapons on Australian soil. Vietnam will have doubts about US intention for many years to come. ANZUS can only be strengthened by this move.

    Nov 17th, 2011 - 06:46 pm 0
  • briton

    perhaps one day, the royal navy will grow again and we will see more of them, rather than less .

    Nov 17th, 2011 - 07:04 pm 0
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