The US has told Australia that it is "foolhardy" to think it needs to make a choice between America and China.
Kurt Campbell, the top Asia policy official in the US State Department, said America wanted to correct "false assessments" in the emerging debate about strategy in Australia.
He told Australian reporters today in a conference call from Washington that parts of the debate were "inaccurate and overwrought".
He said he wanted to "reject out of hand" the idea the US was a declining power.
Many people had lost a lot of money betting the US was in decline, he said. "The US is going to be a dynamic and powerful player in Asia for many decades to come."
He conceded that China had expressed concern at the decision to put a permanent rotating deployment of US Marines near Darwin. "But the more we have explained and made clear" the purpose of the deployment, "these concerns have subsided substantially, and in none of our recent interactions with China has it come up'', he said.
But at the same time that America wanted to intensify ties with Australia, it also expected Canberra to improve ties with China.
Mr Campbell rejected the idea of a zero-sum game in great-power relations.
Washington hoped and expected there would be "strong and dynamic" relations between Australia and China.
Mr Campbell said he realised some debate in Australia posed it as a choice for Australia between its strong alliance with the US and stronger ties with a rising China. But "such a choice would be foolhardy", as well as unnecessary, he said.
Mr Campbell said the idea that the US was trying to exclude a rising China from sharing power in the Asia-Pacific region was "patently false".
Former Australian prime minister Paul Keating argued earlier this month that the US needed to do more to accommodate Chinese power.
He cited what he called the Keating mantra, "that great states need strategic space and that if they are not provided some, they will take it''.
But Mr Campbell said of Mr Keating's remark: "If he's referring to some 19th century kind of colonial division, then I would reject that."
He said that "no country has taken more trouble to engage with China" than the US. If anything, the US had been giving China more responsibility in global affairs than it was comfortable with.
"Look at the role they play in international relations in the global economy, look at the role they play across the spectrum," he said, citing Iran, Syria, North Korea and issues of nuclear non-proliferation. "You name it, there are ample opportunities for China to play a larger role in politics."
He said that "not just the US but every country in Asia is seeking to have more space for China".
Mr Keating had been speaking at the Sydney launch of a book by Hugh White titled The China Choice – Why America Should Share Power.
Liberal Party frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull will speak at the Canberra launch of the book today.
Mr Campbell said that the US was "very mindful" of the lessons of history and the need for existing powers to recognise the needs of rising powers, to avoid what he called the trap of "hegemonic transition".
"That doesn't mean that this relationship is not challenging – inevitably there will be co-operation and inevitably there will be challenges, as there are today," he said.
If two great powers came into armed conflict over clashing spheres of influence, "there would be no winners".