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Sunday, October 17, 2004


RAN and PRC units in first joint exercise

Australia’s 191-crew frigate "HMAS ANZAC" is to take part in a joint excercise with ships of the Peoples Republic of China navy, including the guided missile destroyer "HARBIN", off China's north east coast. Rear Admiral Rowan Moffitt, Australia's maritime commander, described the program as a “fairly elementary” search and rescue exercise, which is “all about establishing communications and confidence in manoeuvring two ships together and conducting a common mission - in this case to search and eventually rescue someone in distress at sea”.

Moffitt told Radio Australia that the Royal Australian Navy had been “increasing the complexity” of its engagement with the PRC in a "very gradual step-by-step" manner since Australia recognised the Communist Party government in 1972 ... but the process had become “more important as the Chinese navy ventures further afield and we see them more broadly in the world”.

The closer relationship, he said, provides a number of benefits to the RAN: “We engage in a high level, and that's one of the reasons why I'm here. We seek to also engage at the unit level which is why the ship is visiting and the benefit accrues by the fact we get to know one another, we become more confident in our relationship with each other and practically we're able to be more confident in the fact we'll be able to work productively at sea as mariners and avoid misunderstandings which is always an important thing for fighting forces.”

He indicated that the status of Taiwan was not necessarily one of sources of potential misunderstandings between the two navies. “Australia's position on Taiwan is quite clear to them and is not a source of (dis)comfort to them,” he said.

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