By Vittorio Hernandez

Canberra, Australia

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that the country agreed to host a U.S. military base.

An initial 250 American marines are expected to arrive in Australia in 2012, which would eventually increase to 2,500.

Observers said the deployment of American troops to Asia-Pacific is a move to counter China's growing influence in the region.

However, U.S. President Barack Obama, who wrapped up his two-day visit to Australia, said the troop deployment is part of the country's commitment to the whole region, including China.

In response to this development, China accused the U.S. of escalating military tension in Asia-Pacific. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it is not appropriate for the United States to intensify and expand military alliances and it could not be in the interest of nations in the region.

It is the first long-term expansion of American military presence in the Pacific since the 1970s when the Vietnam War ended, and amid budget cuts in Pentagon.

Obama said the deployment was not aimed at isolating China, but is an indicator that Washington is growing wary of Beijing's intentions in the region after China invested heavily in military modernization and started to develop long-range aircraft and stronger naval force.

China has also asserted claims on disputed islands in the region which would give Beijing more oil and gas rights in the East and South China Seas.

Obama assured the Pentagon defense cuts will not come at the expense of military security in Asia-Pacific. He said the U.S.'s enduring interest in the region require the country's enduring presence in the region. The American president said since the U.S. is a Pacific power, it will stay in the region.

World - Australia Agrees to Host American Military Base | Global Viewpoint