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Rees: “It would be better if we went and had tea in Beijing”

The federal government’s decision to allow US troops to be stationed in Darwin is “provocative” towards China and the arrangement should be scrapped, the Greens say.

The deal was announced when US President Barack Obama visited Darwin last year, with the Northern Territory welcoming the first wave of 200 US troops earlier this month.

The number is set to build up in coming years to reach 2500 by 2017.

At the launch of a new coalition of anti-war groups on Tuesday, Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon said China was watching the Darwin deployment.

“China sees this as being about them,” she told AAP.

“This is not a responsible foreign policy, the Greens argue, in the 21st century, in terms of dealing with one’s neighbours.”

Also at the launch of the Keep War From Our Door coalition, academic David Palmer warned that “a kind of new Cold War” was emerging.

“We are sending China a signal, ‘Oh, the US is building up its troops’ and China will respond,” Dr Palmer told the crowd of around 100 academics and peace activists.

Stuart Rees, director of the Sydney Peace Foundation, said Australia needed to strengthen its ties to China and other Asian powers rather than focus on defence.

“It would be better if we went and had tea in Beijing,” Professor Rees said.

“This kind of dialogue is what will produce a sense of security,” he said.

Keep War From Our Door opposes military build-up in the region.

It has support from groups including the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition, the Stop the War Coalition Sydney, the Sydney Peace Foundation and the Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney.

The coalition group released a statement on Tuesday – the Global Day of Military Expenditure – calling for the Australian government to “base the US-Australian relationship on our non-military ties”.

This story first appeared on NineMSN 17/4/12