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Aus-China-US likely to hold joint military exercises

Aus-China-US likely to hold joint military exercises

Melbourne: In a bid to improve security and stability in the Pacific region, Australia is planning joint military exercises with China and the US.

The exercises involving Australian, Chinese and US forces are "on the short-term horizon", Australian defence force chief David Hurley was quoted as saying by 'The Australian'.

"We're working our way towards that," he said.

According to the daily, a blueprint on defence white paper 2013 has warned that China's military expansion was changing balance of power in the Pacific and posing a direct challenge to Australia's strategic weight in the region.

Hurley said that Australian and Chinese military leaders had discussed joint exercises "in principle".

"It's not something everyone will rush into but it's certainly on the table and we just need to work out what that might look like and where and when would be the best places to do it," he said, adding that he thought the Americans would want to be part of such an exercise.

"At the moment, we've had the in-principle discussion: 'Yes, this is something we should have a further look at,' "he said. "When, where and in what form would be the next iteration of the discussion."

Hurley said strong military-to-military links through the region were vital."I think they're really critical at all levels, from my ability to speak to any of the chiefs of defence forces in the region at a personal level - I know nearly all of them - down to the institutions that are used to each other and can operate together," he said.

This was all about building capacity and confidence amongst the region's militaries, he said.

"Each of our countries looks to our militaries to help provide for stability and security in the region and the more we can do that working together, the more likely we all are to succeed," Hurley said.

"That applied to China as well. We need to know the Chinese; they need to know us; and we work a very constructive programme," he further said. "It builds confidence in each other and knowledge about each other."

"When disasters occur and so forth, you can just pick up the phone and say 'This is what we're thinking', or 'This is the advice we're thinking of taking to government. What are you doing?"

It gave "ballast" to the region that the armed forces were comfortable with each other, knew each other and could work together, Hurley said.

The report said that the white paper welcomed a rising China but also noted that its military modernisation was a game-changer for Australia.

Hurley, meanwhile, also said Indonesia, Australia and the US are likely to soon hold a major disaster-relief exercise. "It will not just be the three of us though; it will be a regional exercise. That exercise was being arranged by Indonesia and a decision to invite the Chinese would be up to Jakarta."


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