May 3 - Australia is following suit with the U.S. and and refocusing its military strategy on the Asia-Pacific, also seeking to reassure China. Lindsey Parietti reports.
Close U.S. ally Australia is boosting its military air power. Canberra will buy 100 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 Joint Strike Fighters - a lift for Lockheed which had faced design problems with the plane. Until they are ready, Australia will purchase 12 Boeing electronic attack planes to shore up its air force as we as building 12 new submarines. Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the new defence strategy Friday, striking a conciliatory tone towards China. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER JULIA GILLARD, SAYING: "We welcome China's rise. We seek to have a comprehensive and constructive engagement with China. We work on that relationship, and of course I was in China very recently working on that relationship." Australia appears to be seeking to balance the competing interests of the U.S. and China in the Asia Pacific region. Some of China's regional neighbours -- such as U.S. ally Japan -- have been involved in increasing friction with Beijing in territorial disputes over resource-rich marine areas in the East and South China seas. Australia's first shift in military priorities since 2009 is in line with US President Barack Obama's new focus on the Asia-Pacific region.