Amid the brewing tension in South China Sea, the United States is reportedly in talks with the Australian government for a possible deployment of long-range bombers, a move that could likely put unprecedented pressure on US-China relations.
Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, a spokesman for the U.S. Air Force told the Reuters that the US is planning to augment additional B-1 bombers, which will be positioned at a striking distance. It would also include expansion of the B-52 bomber missions, which are currently doing patrols in the highly disputed territory.
“These bomber rotations provide opportunities for our Airmen to advance and strengthen our regional alliances and provide (Pacific Air Forces) and U.S. Pacific Command leaders with a credible global strike and deterrence capability to help maintain peace and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” Pickart was quoted as saying by the Reuters.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, however, was quick to avoid direct questions on the same issue saying Australia’s relations with the US is no secret and whatever the two nations are up to, is carefully determined for the mutual interests of the two countries.
In a separate report from the ABC News, Turnbull downplayed possibility of having the US deploy long-range bombers in Australian territory. While Turnbull has been dodging direct questions about the recent talks with the US about stationing long-range bombers, experts believe that should this happen, this would put Australia at risk.
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed concern about the reported talk between the US and Australia. The Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said that state leaders within the region should focus more on cooperation, peace, and development within the region. It added that all stakeholders should focus on ensuring regional stability and peace rather initiating conflicts that could bring chaos in the region.