Earlier this month, Australian, U.S. and Chinese troops took part in a survival training exercise in northern Australia. In an email interview, Benjamin Schreer, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, discussed Australia’s military and strategic partnerships.
WPR: What is the extent of Australia’s military engagement, in terms of joint exercises and dialogue, with China?
Benjamin Schreer: In recent years, Australia’s military engagement with China has gradually increased. In 2012 both countries agreed on a “strategic partnership,” which included a commitment for an annual high-level dialogue. In September, the second Australia-China Foreign and Strategic Dialogue was held in Sydney. Visits by senior defense officials of both countries have increased, underpinning the growing number of bilateral and multilateral military exercises between the two sides. For instance, Chinese soldiers just participated in the first Australia-China-U.S. trilateral land exercise, “Exercise Kowari,” in northern Australia, which focused on survival training. Australia and China have also joined the multilateral disaster relief exercise with the U.S. and New Zealand, “Exercise Phoenix Spirit.”