A senior American military official has called on Australia to confront China’s growing influence if it wants stronger ties with the US.
US Army Assistant Chief of Staff Colonel Tom Hanson told Australian radio on Thursday that Canberra should make a choice between Beijing and Washington, the Reuters reported.
“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 told 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 added.
Hanson specifically urged Canberra to take a tougher stance against Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea, which channels more than $5 trillion in global trade each year and is believed to be rich in oil and gas.
China has long claimed sovereignty over the sea but those claims are…