On November 15, 2011, US president Obama signed an agreement with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard o have a Marine, air and ground task force using Australian facilities to act as a “force multiplier” in the region. No new U.S. bases will be built. Marines will rotate into and out of the region, building up slowly from 250. After the buildup is complete, they will total some 2,500.
On November 30, 2011, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid a state visit to Myanmar, the first such visit by a US cabinet member in over 50 years. The United States is one of a tiny few nations on earth that is both an Atlantic and Pacific country.
In many ways, the Atlantic and East-facing concerns, (Europe, the Middle East) is a “past-looking” orientation for the US, while West-facing nations, and the Pacific rim in general is a more future and forward looking dimension of US political concerns.
BEIJING — As Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Myanmar on Wednesday, the neighbors were watching closely.
The trip to the usually closed-off nation, the first by a U.S. secretary of state in more than half a century,
“We are quite uncertain what kind of role the U.S. is going to play in Myanmar,” said Zhu Feng, an international relations expert at Peking University. “Myanmar will be a test for American policy toward China.”
The concerns underline the complexity of relations between the United States and China. On one hand are economic ties that include more than $457 billion in trade last year and China’s holding of more than $1.1 trillion in American Treasury debt.
Obama had told the Australian Parliament that the United States had made a “deliberate and strategic decision, as a Pacific nation” to take “a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future.”
It’s “part of the grand policy adjustment by the U.S. to reconsolidate its presence in the Asian Pacific, and its main driving force is concern about China,” said Wang Yong, a professor of foreign relations and the director of the Center for International Political Economy at Peking University.
South Korea, which drew closer to the U.S. after China failed to condemn its North Korean allies for allegedly torpedoing and sinking a South Korean naval ship last year. China similarly said nothing after North Korea shelled a South Korean island.