President Obama announced earlier Wednesday during a visit Down Under that 250 U.S. Marines soon will deploy to northern Australia. Up to 2,500 Marines could eventually be stationed there.
More U.S. war ships will stop in Australia, and the American Air Force will rotate more aircraft through the island nation.
During a Pentagon briefing, spokesman George Little stressed the deployment was not directed at China, a growing military and economic power. "It’s not about China,” Little said.
The Marines will be in Australia to train and exercise with their Australian counterparts, the spokesmen said.
The Obama administration is in the midst of swinging the focal point of U.S. foreign policy from the Middle East to Asia, calculating that region will be at the center of global developments for years to come.
“We will remain a Pacific power,” Little said.
During a press conference in Australia, Obama did not directly warn China about its military. During a question-and-answer session, Obama sent a mostly economic message to China.
"We welcome a rising, peaceful China," Obama said, according to a White House transcript. "The main message that I’ve said not only publicly, but also privately, to the Chinese is that with their rise comes increased responsibilities. It’s important for them to play by the rules of the road and, in fact, help underwrite the rules that have allowed so much remarkable economic progress to be made over the last several decades. And that’s going to be true on a whole host of issues."
Without mentioning the coming enhanced U.S. military presence to China's south, the president then issued a warning.
"There are going to be times where they’re not," Obama said, "and we will send a clear message to them that we think that they need to be on track in terms of accepting the rules and responsibilities that come with being a world power."