China not thrilled with U.S Military plans in Australia

China’s Ministry of National Defense on Wednesday criticized U.S. plans to establish a permanent military presence in Australia, accusing Washington of acting antagonistically in the region and perpetuating a Cold War mentality.

The remarks by Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng are the strongest reaction yet to the announcement by U.S. President Barack Obama earlier in November to strengthen military ties with Australia and to eventually station 2,500 Marines on Australia’s remote northern coast.

Nonetheless, the response was relatively mild in that it didn’t warn that the new military presence would damage wider U.S.-China military ties.

“We believe this is all a manifestation of a Cold War mentality,” Mr. Geng said at a monthly press briefing, according to text of his remarks posted on the Defense Ministry’s website. “We hope relevant parties do more things that are beneficial for the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region, rather than the opposite.”

U.S.-China military relations have been frosty as of late amid growing U.S. concern over the transparency of China’s military modernization and its aggressive handling of territorial disputes with neighbors in the South China Sea and elsewhere. The Obama administration’s decision in September to upgrade Taiwan’s existing fleet of F-16 fighter jets also has aggravated ties, though likely not to the extent they would have been had the U.S. sold Taiwan new F-16 C/D aircraft, as many U.S. lawmakers had hoped.

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