By Li Xiaokun and Li Lianxing
December 1, 2011
BEIJING – The Defense Ministry on Wednesday criticized Washington’s decision to build a de facto military base in Australia, warning it could harm the interests of all sides concerned.
Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng made the remarks at the ministry’s monthly news conference when asked about a plan unveiled in mid-November by US President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to base up to 2,500 US Marines in the northern Australian port of Darwin from mid-2012.
Obama announced the plan, which he said showed Washington’s “commitment to the entire Asia-Pacific region”, during his nine-day trip to the region that ended on Nov 19.
The move, however, drew concern from neighboring countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
“Military alliances are a product of history. We believe any strengthening and expansion of military alliances is an expression of a Cold War mentality,” Geng said.
“This is not in keeping with the spirit of peace, development and cooperation, and does not help to enhance mutual trust and cooperation between countries in the region, and could ultimately harm the common interests of all concerned,” he said.
“We hope that the parties concerned will do more that is beneficial to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region, and not the contrary.”
Geng also said that the notion raised by US and Australian officials of advancing “integrated air and sea combat” amounted to “trumpeting confrontation and sacrificing others’ security for the sake of one’s own security”.
“To be honest, the theory of ‘integrated air and sea combat’ is not creative,” he said.
Yuan Peng, an expert on US studies from the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said Washington’s military deployment in Australia has a strong strategic orientation.
“It is overreaction toward China’s normal military moves and it might result in China’s overreaction in the near future. This security dilemma, if it escalates, might lead to another Cold War.”
“The US wants to return to the Asia-Pacific region where China is rising, yet it lacks the principle of positive interaction.”
Fan Jishe, a researcher from the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the ‘integrated air and sea combat’ theory is “clearly targeted at China’s challenge to US military strategy, not terrorism, the claimed biggest threat to the US”.
“This Cold War mentality will affect future cooperation between the two sides in both traditional and non-traditional areas,” Fan said.