Xinhua News Global Edition

By Vienna Ma

CANBERRA, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Australia has sent the biggest recognition of declining American power in the world, an Australian expert told Xinhua in an interview.

During Obama's first visit to Australia, the president announced the U.S. and Australia have agreed to increase joint military initiatives to enhance the alliance between the two nations, which will see the U.S. boost its military activities in Australia from 2012.

Some people have viewed the announcement as a response to concerns over the rising power of Asia Pacific nations, however, Associate Professor Brendon O'Connor, from Sydney University's US Studies Centre, thinks Obama's visit has given a strongest message to recognize the declining U.S. power in the world.

Professor O'Connor said that in recent years the U.S. has changed its view on Australia, regarding the nation as an important part of the world, which is not very common in Australia's history, as the nation's history has been seen as a back quarter.

He said Obama's recent comments on Australia indicated the U.S. is recognizing the growing influence of Asia-Pacific regions, especially when Obama called the present century as the "Asia Pacific Century" during his press conference with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Wednesday.

"(In regarding to Obama's speeches given during his Australia trip) I think underlying it is a recognition of the U.S. is not the sole superpower anymore in the world, and certainly not in the Asia Pacific, and it would be a century, which the U.S. now calls the Asia Pacific century, where power arrangement has to be shared with China," Professor O'Connor said.

"So I think these are subtext that are actually stepping to a positive direction that acknowledges Chinese power and the rise of China, and relevant decline of the U.S. and there will be some shifts of power arrangement."

The military boost announcement has sparked concerns both inside and outside Australia, with Australian Greens and some experts saying that the military boost will affect Australia's relationship with its neighbors.

While Australia is always searching for some level of increased security and insurance from the U.S. in order to handle potential conflicts, Professor O'Connor said the move will help to provide Australia with "a little bit security blanket".

He also indicated defense activity is not the main priority the U.S. is trying to focus in the region at the moment.

"The defense relation, like the announcement to have more troops in Darwin, is really just the third order, it's the backup," Professor O'Connor said.

"The main priority is good trading relations, good positive diplomatic relations, and the third thing is just to confirm the safety to the element as the third priority, not the first priority."

As long as the U.S. troops do not present offensive or aggressive training routine and training exercises, Professor O' Connor said the military boost will be positive for Australia, serving the purpose to allow Australia to better respond to the provision of humanitarian assistance and dealing with natural disasters.