AMERICA will remain the ''single most important'' country in Asia and Washington is far from being eclipsed by Beijing, according to a staunch defence of the Gillard government's military outlook.
''The US is not going away,'' Defence Minister Stephen Smith will argue today at a speech in Sydney, also setting a goal to raise Australia's military ties with China to the same level as the economic relationship.
Mr Smith's speech follows criticism by former prime minister Paul Keating this week of Labor and conservative governments alike for allowing Australia to be seen as in lock-step with the United States.
Mr Keating warned the US was drifting towards confrontation with China and Australia was failing to stand-up for its own interests.
But Mr Smith will argue India is destined to become one of ''three superpowers'' in the region, with the US to be the most important.
''In Australia's view, the US has underwritten stability in the Asia-Pacific for more than the past half-century and will continue to be the single most important strategic actor in our region for the foreseeable future,'' Mr Smith will say, according to an extract of the speech provided by his office to The Age. But he will concede the transformation in the region makes it difficult to say how power dynamics in Asia will unfold.
Defending the decision to deploy 2500 US marines near Darwin, along with visits by US warships to Perth, Mr Smith will say such co-operation with Australia makes a contribution to regional peace.