Australian flag flutters in front of the Great Hall of the People during a welcoming ceremony for Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (not in picture) in Beijing, China, April 14, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Reuters: Australia must choose between United States and China: U.S. Army official
A senior U.S. soldier said on Thursday Australia must choose between a stronger U.S. alliance or closer ties with China, and urged Canberra to take a tougher stance against Chinese claims in the South China Sea.
The Pentagon, however, disputed the statement by U.S. Army Assistant Chief of Staff Colonel Tom Hanson, saying it did not represent the position of the U.S. government.
"I think the Australians need to make a choice ... it's very difficult to walk this fine line between balancing the alliance with the United States and the economic engagement with China," Hanson said on Australian Broadcasting Corp. Radio.
"There's going to have to be a decision as to which one is more of a vital national interest for Australia," he said. Hanson said the comments reflected his personal view and were not necessarily that of the U.S. government.
A Pentagon spokesman said that Hanson was expressing his "personal view."
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WNU Editor: The Pentagon says no .... Time to Choose between U.S. and China, American Officer Tells Australia (Paul McLeary, Foreign Policy).