Kakadu2018 | China, India in Australia’s Largest Maritime Exercise

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LOOKEAST REPORT |

China and India are among the 27 countries now participating for the first time in Australia’s largest maritime exercise.

Chinese missile destroyer Huangshan attends the Exercise Kakadu 2018 in Australia. ©ChinaPlusNews

More than 3,000 personnel from these countries are doing “joint training” off the strategic northern port of Darwin, Australian military says.

 

Two of our Australian navy sailors are across actually, right now in the Chinese ship. So they’ve both been able to integrate within each other’s navy and learn a little bit of what life is like for them today in Exercise Kakadu

 

Exercise Kakadu is hosting 23 ships and submarines from across the Indo–Pacific region, enabling them to establish familiarity to prevent conflict on the high seas and to coordinate disaster relief efforts.

Commander Anita Sellick of the Australian frigate HMAS Newcastle told media two Royal Australian Navy sailors were accepted onto China’s naval frigate Huangshan during the drill “Two of our Australian navy sailors are across actually, right now in the Chinese ship. So they’ve both been able to integrate within each other’s navy and learn a little bit of what life is like for them in Exercise Kakadu,” Sellick told reporters.

Commander of the Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead, told reporters in Darwin in a televised interview that there were mutual benefits in building understanding and trust during the exercise.

The joint military practice, which will continue until September 15, is supported by the Royal Australian Air Force and involves 21 aircraft.

 

In April, three Australian warships had a challenging encounter with China as they passed through the South China Sea. Then in May, the United States dis-invited China from joint naval exercises off Hawaii in response to what it called China’s militarisation of disputed areas of the South China Sea

 

Darwin, on the doorstep of Asia, is Australia’s most strategically important city and has been home to a contingent of US Marines since 2011 making it the logical place for the exercise.

 

Royal Australian Navy sailors stand with officers from the Chinese Navy aboard the Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Newcastle during Exercise Kakadu 2018 being conducted off the coast of Darwin in northern Australia, September 8, 2018. ©Reuters

Integrating the People’s Liberation Army Navy into the biennial training with American, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian forces for the first time has given China an opportunity to improve its working relationship with those countries, which has been tense at times.

In April, three Australian warships had a challenging encounter with China as they passed through the South China Sea. Then in May, the United States dis-invited China from joint naval exercises off Hawaii in response to what it called China’s militarisation of disputed areas of the South China Sea, an allegation Beijing rejects.

The participating countries in Exercise Kakadu are: China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Cook Islands, Fiji, France, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, The Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, East Timor, Tonga, United Arab Emirates, US, Australia, and Vietnam. ■

with inputs from Reuters

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