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Pentagon report on strengthening US bases in Guam, Aus aims to encircle China: Official

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Beijing: China on Tuesday took exception to a Pentagon report to enhance US bases in Guam and Australia to meet the growing challenges posed by Beijing, saying it fully exposes Washington’s efforts to militarise the Indo-Pacific to “encircle and contain” it.

A senior US defence official on Monday said that the Pentagon will focus on building up bases in Guam and Australia to better prepare the US military to counter China.

The moves have been prompted by the Department of Defence’s global posture review, which the US President Joe Biden ordered Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin to undertake shortly after taking office in February.

Biden “recently approved” Austin’s findings and recommendations from the global posture review, Dr Mara Karlin, performing the duties of deputy under-secretary for policy, said at a briefing on Monday.

To counter China, the review directs the US Defence Department to enhance “infrastructure in Guam and Australia,” and to prioritise “military construction across the Pacific Islands as well as “seeking greater regional access for military partnership activities,” the CNN quoted the official as saying.

The Indo-Pacific region was a major focus, because of Secretary Austin’s emphasis on “China as the pacing challenge,” for the Department, the US official said.

“In Australia, you’ll see new rotational fighter and bomber aircraft deployments, you’ll see ground forces training and increased logistics cooperation, and more broadly across the Indo-Pacific, you’ll see a range of infrastructure improvements, in Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Australia,” Karlin said during the briefing.

The global posture review also directs the Department to focus more on the Indo-Pacific region by “reducing” the number of troops and equipment in other areas of the world, “to enable improved warfighting readiness and increased activities” in the Indo-Pacific, the official said.

Asked for his reaction at a media briefing here, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said: “the report by the Pentagon fully exposes its real intentions to militarise the so-called Indo-Pacific region and to encircle and contain China with all efforts possible”.

China’s development of its defence is purely out of the need to defend its security and development interests and to maintain regional and international peace and security, he said.

“This is intrinsically different from the US who flexes its muscles across the road and engages in hegemony and bullyism that undermines regional peace and stability.

“China firmly opposes the US attempt to make China threat an excuse for expansion of military defence and military power and maintain military hegemony. The US side should abandon its Cold War mentality of creating an imagery enemy and stop threatening world peace and security,” Zhao said.

Carrying on with former president Donald Trump’s policy to counter China, the Biden administration made it foreign and defence policy priority amid increasing tensions over Taiwan with Beijing striking an aggressive military posture, sending hundreds of military aircraft into the Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ).

This month, top US defence officials said that China conducted a hypersonic weapons test in July, which sent a missile around the Earth at more than five times the speed of sound.



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