This week I will visit the People’s Republic of China.
This will be my third visit to China as a Minister in the Australian Government and my first visit to China as Minister for Defence.
I look forward to conducting the inaugural Defence Ministers’ Dialogue with my Chinese counterpart, Defense Minister General Liang Guanglie.
I will also visit the PLA Navy’s South Sea Fleet Headquarters in Zhanjiang.
Australia is committed to developing strong and positive military to military and defence to defence relations with China through dialogue and practical activities.
In November 2011, General Ma Xiaotian co-chaired the 14th annual Australia-China Defence Strategic Dialogue with the Vice Chief of Defence Force and Deputy Secretary Strategy at HMAS Watson in Sydney.
This followed the 13th Defence Strategic Dialogue co-chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Defence and Chief of the Defence Force and the Chief of the General Staff of the PLA, General Chen Bingde, in December 2010 in Nantong in China. Earlier that year General Guo Boxiong, China’s most senior uniformed military officer, visited Australia.
Last month HMAS Ballarat visited Shanghai for five days to help mark 40 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and the People’s Republic of China. During the visit HMAS Ballarat conducted a Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with the Chinese Navy frigate Anqing at the mouth of the Yangtze River.
This followed the reciprocal visits in September 2010 by HMAS Warramunga to the Chinese ports of Qingdao and Zhanjiang and the visit by two PLA-Navy ships, the training ship Zhenghe and frigate Mianyang, to Sydney and Darwin.
China is an important partner for Australia in the region and our bilateral defence relationship is a key component of our broader bilateral relationship.
I look forward to holding discussions with Chinese Leaders on regional security issues of mutual concern and helping to build our bilateral defence relationship into the future.
Mr Smith’s Office: Ellen Shields (02) 6277 7800 or 0400 347 473
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999