Minister for Defence Stephen Smith today announced that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has commenced Exercise COOPERATION SPIRIT 2011 with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Sichuan Province, China. The exercise began on 27 November and will continue until 1 December.
“Exercise COOPERATION SPIRIT is a bilateral Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise, and aims to enhance coordination and cooperation between our two countries in responding to unforeseen disasters that occur in the Asia-Pacific,” Mr Smith said.
“The conduct of this exercise demonstrates the deepening practical cooperation between the ADF and the PLA and the commitment by both countries to developing strong and positive defence relations.”
Exercise COOPERATION SPIRIT follows the 14th annual Australia-China Defence Strategic Dialogue co-chaired by the Vice Chief of the Defence Force Air Marshal Mark Binskin, Deputy Secretary Strategy, Mr Peter Jennings and General Ma Xiaotian, Deputy Chief of General Staff, People’s Liberation Army at HMAS Watson in Sydney on 7 November.
The Dialogue agreed to a plan for enhancing Defence engagement over the next two years, including in the areas of: maritime security; humanitarian assistance and disaster relief cooperation; peacekeeping exchanges, senior-level dialogue and professional and working level exchanges.
As part of our growing military cooperation with China, the Royal Australian Navy Frigate HMAS Warramunga conducted reciprocal visits in September last year to the Chinese ports of Qingdao and Zhanjiang.
During her visit HMAS Warramunga successfully completed the first live firing exercise of its kind with the Chinese Navy off the coast of China. HMAS Warramunga also conducted joint helicopter operations, search and rescue drills and personnel exchanges.
At the same time, two PLA-Navy ships, the training ship Zhenghe and frigate Mianyang, conducted reciprocal visits to Sydney and Darwin. In a historic first, the PLA Navy extended an invitation for two Australian Midshipmen from the Australian Defence Force Academy to join the training ship Zhenghe on her journey from Auckland to Sydney.
The Government is committed to developing bilateral Defence ties and the military to military relationship with China through dialogue and practical activities.
Mr Smith’s Office: (02) 6277 7800
Departmental: (02) 6127 1999