At the invitation of General Liang Guanglie, State Councillor and Minister of National Defence of the People’s Republic of China, the Minister for Defence of the Commonwealth of Australia, Mr Stephen Smith MP, visited China from 5 to 7 June 2012. The visit has occurred in a significant year as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and the People’s Republic of China. Minister Smith was accompanied by the Secretary of the Australian Department of Defence, Mr Duncan Lewis and the Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley.
The two Ministers held frank and productive discussions on issues of mutual interest including China-Australia bilateral and defence relations and regional security. Both Ministers agreed that as major countries in the Asia-Pacific region, China and Australia have shared interests and a desire to ensure a peaceful, stable and prosperous Asia-Pacific. a positive and mutually beneficial China-Australia defence relationship serves the fundamental interests of both countries.
Both Ministers agreed that the defence relationship is an integral part of the overall bilateral relationship. They reiterated the importance of developing positive and mutually beneficial defence relations and the need to maintain high-level contact and dialogue. Both sides agreed to look for opportunities to conduct regular Defence Ministers’ Dialogue. The Australian side invited the Minister of National Defence of the People’s Republic of China to visit Australia in 2013. The Chinese side invited the Chief of the Australian Defence Force and the Secretary of the Department of Defence to visit China later this year for the 15th Defence Strategic Dialogue.
Both Ministers agreed to deepen practical cooperation in different fields between the two militaries. They noted the recent success of the first joint China-Australia humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise, Exercise Cooperation Spirit 2011, held in Sichuan Province in November 2011 and Minister Smith formally extended an invitation to the People’s Liberation Army to attend Exercise Cooperation Spirit 2012 in Australia later this year.
Both sides were pleased with the recent visit of HMAS Ballarat to China. The Australian side welcomed the planned visit of People’s Liberation Army Navy ships to Australia later this year on return from counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. Agreement was reached to share lessons learned on counter piracy operations during this ship visit.
The Australian side welcomed China’s continued positive contribution to international security including through the provision of peacekeepers to United Nations Missions in South Sudan, Liberia and other UN peacekeeping missions. Both sides agreed to explore options for a future bilateral peacekeeping exercise.
Both sides agreed to enhance exchanges and develop mutual understanding of each others respective military culture. Ministers agreed to further develop personnel and academic exchanges between our military training institutions and Defence organisations—including language and technical training courses.
General Ma Xiaotian, Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Rear Admiral Zhan Jian Chang, Deputy Chief of Staff People’s Liberation Army Navy, Rear Admiral Kan Li Kui, Deputy Chief of the Operations Department, General Staff Department, Rear Admiral Li Ji, Deputy Chief of the Foreign Affairs Office, Ministry of National Defence and HE Ms Frances Adamson, Australian Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China attended the Dialogue.