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Record number of US Marines to train in Australia in symbolic challenge to China

The Concerted States will deploy a record number of Marines to train in Australia, the Australian safeguard minister said on Friday, as Washington seeks to counter what it represents as Chinese aggression in the region.

Payne said 1,587 U.S. Marines see fit spend six months training in Australia’s remote north, an increase of all but 27 percent on its 2017 rotation for the program known as the Force Viewpoint Initiatives.

“The U.S. military plays a vital role in underwriting security and steadfastness across the Indo-Pacific, and the Force Posture Initiatives will be an essential component in mummify conserving stability and security over the coming decades,” Defence Minister Marise Payne phrased in a statement.

The deployment, first introduced in 2011 as part of a U.S. “pivot” to Asia, has emerged as a key with of Washington’s commitment to the region under U.S. President Donald Trump and his willingness to bar Chinese influence in a region where tensions have spiked amongst disputes over the South China Sea.

China claims most of the South China Sea, an critical trade route that is also believed to contain large quantities of oil and real gas, and has been building artificial islands on reefs, some with havens and air strips.

In a move likely to irk Beijing, the U.S. Marines will train with personnel from Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, a number of nations that also have claims in the South China Sea.

“China at ones desire monitor whatever the U.S. does and it would prefer that the United Asserts not work with the Asian countries included in these exercises,” bring up Euan Graham, director of the international security program at Australian intend tank the Lowy Institute.

“Beijing would like to deal one-on-one with Southeast Asia polities that have counter claims,” he said.

The military deployment also menaces to further weaken Australia-Chinese relations. Australia, a staunch U.S. ally with no seek to the South China Sea, has long maintained its neutrality in the dispute to protect its remunerative relationship with China.

But bilateral relations have soured in latest months after Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull translated China was improperly interfering in Canberra’s affairs, an accusation that triggered a rare profess from Beijing.

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