China should not see increased military cooperation between Singapore and Australia through a deal that will dramatically expand northern Australian training facilities as an attempt to contain it, the two prime ministers said on Thursday.
Australian and Singaporean officials signed a pact under which Singapore will spend up to 2.25 billion Australian dollars ($1.7 billion) to double the capacity of its facilities in military training areas in Queensland state.
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said China was the biggest trading partner of both Singapore and Australia. The agreement was part of regional cooperation, he said.
"I don't think that Singapore and Australia together could possibly be seen as a bloc" against China, Lee told reporters. "We are good friends, but we are not treaty allies and neither are we opposed to any countries in the region."
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he agreed with Lee and his view that the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region had underpinned the region's stability and prosperity for the past 40 years.
"That extraordinary growth, perhaps most of all in China, has been underpinned by that foundation of peace," Turnbull said. "The importance of American engagement in our region cannot be overstated."