BARACK OBAMA is to announce that the US will begin rotating Marines through an Australian base in Darwin in a permanent new military presence, intensifying the alliance in a sign of heightened concern about China.
''This is all about the rise of China, the modernisation of the People's Liberation Army and, particularly, it's about the increased vulnerability of US forces in Japan and Guam to the new generation of Chinese missiles,'' said Alan Dupont, the Michael Hintze professor of international security at Sydney University.
''The new Chinese missiles could threaten them in a way they've never been able to before, so the US is starting to reposition them to make them less vulnerable. Australia's 'tyranny of distance' is now a distinct strategic advantage.''
Professor Dupont, a former Australian Defence official and intelligence analyst, said the ''Australian strategic rationale is that we are also hedging against increasing Chinese military power and their capacity to destabilise maritime trade routes. And we want to get closer to the US.
''There's no doubt at all the Chinese will have serious reservations about this''