Washington: The US is planning to set up a military base in Australia to counter the growing Chinese threat.
According to the new plan, about 500 to 1,000 American officers would be permanently stationed at Robertson barracks outside Darwin, the Daily Mail reports.
The move represents a significant geo-strategic shift, as the US prepares to boost its Pacific Command.
US President Barack Obama is expected to formally reveal the plan during his visit to Darwin next week.
The plan, which indicates growing American influence in Asia, has however evoked fears that the base would be likely become a terror target.
The new plan would intensify the 60-year-old military alliance between the US and Australia.
“This would potentially see more ship visits, more visiting aircraft and more training and exercising through northern Australia. It would also include the pre-positioning of United States equipment in Australia,” Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith said.
Analysts said the move represented a response to growing Chinese influence on the high seas.
University of Sydney’s US Studies Centre Chief Executive Professor Geoffrey Garrett said the US strategy is significant for two reasons.
“China looms very large for both Australia and the US. The first concerns strengthening America`s alliances and friendships in the region as an insurance policy that China`s until now very peaceful rise changes course,” he said.
“The second is trying to build a regional economic architecture for the Asia-Pacific. That will be based on the market principles of America and Australia that China over time will have powerful incentives to join”, he added.
Lowy Institute for International Policy Director of Studies Andrew Shearer said the move was ``not all about China but it`s as much to do with the rise of India as well”.