China, Australia and New Zealand’s navies will come together in
September near Australia for their first-ever joint maritime drill.
This announcement came out after talks between Chinese Defense
Minister Cao Gangchuan and Australian counterpart
Brendan Nelson on Monday.
Nelson revealed that Chinese vessels would visit Australia in
September to carry out a "search-and-rescue exercise" with
Australia and New Zealand, in order to promote "build trust and
Cao lauded the drill as "a step to show the expansion of our
substantive military cooperation".
This will be China’s first multilateral drill after bilateral
efforts with countries such as Britain, France, Pakistan, India,
Australia, Thailand and the United States since 2003.
Nelson’s visit, his first to China since assuming the post in
January 2006, comes in a tense mood after Australia recently
published a defense policy paper that said "the pace and scope of
(China's) military modernization ... could create misunderstandings
and instability in the region".
The Chinese Foreign Ministry last week dismissed Australia's
concerns over China's military development, saying the country
would stick to the path of peaceful development.
However, Cao and Nelson steered clear of tense subjects during
their talks, preferring instead to hail the good momentum of
China-Australia military ties.
Cao, also vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission and
State Councilor, praised the development of China-Australia
military ties, citing frequent high-level visits, the existing
consultation mechanisms and substantive exchanges in specialized
Cao did give one warning shot, stating that "neither side should
do anything to raise the concerns of the other country,” to which
Nelson responded that Australia would like to increase its
knowledge about China’s military, although he did admit its
transparency had improved.
The talks included a briefing by Cao about China's military
expenditure and defense policy.
"We think it perfectly appropriate for a country like China to
increase its military capabilities," Nelson said.
Nelson said the Australian military looks forward to forging
closer ties with China in terms of fighting terrorism, peacekeeping
and disaster relief.
(Xinhua News Agency July 10, 2007)