By Cherice Chen
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2011-11-16 05:50 PM
The US-Australia agreement, announced during a joint news conference with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, will position more US equipment and increase military personnel in Australia.
“With my visit to the region I am making it clear that the United States is stepping up its commitment to the entire Asia-Pacific region,” Obama said.
Deployment of an initial company of 200-250 Marines would begin next year and expand to up to 2,500 eventually, Gillard said.
Obama also plans to raise maritime security in the South China Sea at the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Bali this week, defying China’s desire to keep this sensitive topic off the agenda.
Meanwhile, on a steaming hot day in Manila, Clinton signed a declaration marking sixty years since the US signed a security treaty with the Philippines in a highly symbolic ceremony aboard the Fitzgerald, a US Navy vessel that has operated in the South China Sea.
“We must ensure that this alliance remains strong, capable of delivering results for the people of the Philippines and the United States and our neighbors throughout the Pacific,” Clinton said.
The statement called for a “rules-based approach in resolving competing claims in maritime areas”.
“The United States does not take any position on any territorial claim because any nation ... has a right to assert it. But they do not have a right to pursue it through intimidation or coercion,” Clinton said, not directly mentioning China.
The US military presence is sensitive in the Philippines due to the colonial legacy, and a small number of left-wing activists protested Clinton’s visit, accusing the US of using the former colony for its own profits.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino has voiced support for expanding military cooperation with the US.
The Philippines has sought to rally Southeast Asian nations to stand firm with China over the maritime dispute, but Beijing has insisted that it only opens to bilateral negotiations.
Clinton will later visit Thailand ― another US ally in Southeast Asia ― in a show of support for Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra as she faces the devastating months-long floods.