Sat, Nov 24, 2012 - Page 9 News List

How Asia views Obama’s Pacific initiative

Much has been made of US President Barack Obama’s ‘pivot to Asia,’ but for countries in the region there are lasting consequences of being caught between the US and China




Australia got one of the first waves from the pivot when the US announced last year it would begin rotating up to 2,500 US Marines through the northern city of Darwin. Now the US is seeking access to an Australian navy base south of the western city of Perth and to bombing ranges in the northern Outback.

Some experts fear the relationship may be moving too fast.

On one hand there is broad support for Australia’s defense relationship with the US, so having US Marines was seen as a natural step. However, it has also raised concerns that Washington will push for more — something Australia might not be ready for. After all, China is central to Australia’s economy, buying the bulk of its mineral and coal resources.

“What worries us is the way in which it seems to confirm that the US and China are increasingly viewing each other as strategic rivals,” said Hugh White, professor of strategic studies at Australian National University.

“We worry about the idea of the US-China relationship becoming more adversarial,” he said. “America wants to remain the dominant power in Asia and China wants to become the dominant power in Asia. What the rest of us all want is for neither of them to be the dominant power in Asia.”

By AP writers Christopher Bodeen in Beijing, Peter Enav in Taipei, Jim Gomez in Manila, Kim Hyung-jin in Seoul, Elaine Kurtenbach in Tokyo, Chris Brummitt in Hanoi, Jocelyn Gecker in Bangkok and Kristen Gelineau in Sydney.

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