The Australian

By Sid Maher

The US is playing down concerns about China’s growing naval power and behaviour in maritime disputes in the wake of dramatic warnings that the era of uncontested US maritime superiority “seems to be coming to a close’’.

US ambassador to Australia John Berry dismissed talk of US decline, pointing to erroneous predictions since the late 1700s that the American experiment would not work, and the recent stronger performance of the US economy which had seen growth increase, the deficit fall and lower unemployment.

He said the US sought no military bases in Australia.

Mr Berry said the US did not seek to “dominate’’ anywhere in the world.

US and Australian defence specialists expressed concerns about China’s behaviour in maritime disputes in the South China Sea and about the possibility of Australia becoming involved if China takes more risks to consolidate its control over large areas of ocean, including the Indian Ocean.

The report, The ANZUS Alliance in an Ascending Asia by the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre and the Washington-based Centre for Strategic an International Studies was released yesterday.

But ambassador Berry, in an interview on Sky News, said the US believed China would be a force for good.

“They will be a responsible leader as they take their rightful position on the world stage,’’ Mr Berry said.

He said there were diplomatic solutions to problems in the South and East China seas although the US viewed them “with some concern’’.

“I think there are many off ramps to the actions that China is taking that is creating tensions with its neighbours in the arena of one of the busiest travelled trade zones in the world.’’

He said the US would work with China to reduce those tensions.

He said the major military exercise underway in Darwin between Australian and US troops, Operation Talisman Sabre, were designed to ensure equipment worked and military personnel got to work together.

This facilitated disaster relief and operating in Australian conditions was valuable experience for the Marines.

Mr Berry said the US welcomed the rise of China’s growth “and its responsible joining of leadership on the world stage’’.

This article was originally published in The Australian