Chinese navy embarks on charm offensive | Connect Asia

Chinese navy embarks on charm offensive

Chinese navy embarks on charm offensive

Posted 24 September 2010, 11:42 AEST

China's chosen the Australian navy as its partner for what is being called "the most intense wargames with a foreign power" in its history.

The live-firing exercise took place in the Yellow Sea off northeast China. The Australia Network's China correspondent

was granted exclusive access aboard a Chinese navy frigate taking part in the exercises.

Presenter:Tom Iggulden, China correspondent, Australia Network

Lieutenant Commander Tony Cao; Commander Bruce Legge

TOM IGGULDEN: China has never allowed western media onto one of its navy ships during live target practise before but times are changing.

(Sound of gunfire)

We're on the Yellow Sea off northern China aboard the Chinese navy frigate Luoyang as 80 millimetre guns open up on a target almost three kilometres away.

(Sound of gunfire)

Also firing is the Australian frigate Waramanga which is also taking part in the joint exercises.

Smoke fills the Yellow Sea air after each firing.

Chinese Lieutenant Commander Tony Cao is happy with the result.

TONY CAO: We had very good cooperation today and because today we use weapons to strike the target yeah, I think that shows our relationship.

TOM IGGULDEN: After criticism it's been too secretive about its military build-up China is on a charm offensive and it's chosen Australia as a partner to show the world its intentions are peaceful.

It's never before conducted joint target practise with a foreign navy.

BRUCE LEGGE: So that shows you the extent of how far we're moving forward.

TOM IGGULDEN: Commander Bruce Legge is the Australian frigate's commanding officer.

So what are they telling you about why they're so keen to have this sort of special relationship if you like with the Australian Navy?

BRUCE LEGGE: Well they haven't actually told me. But it is quite clear that they are very keen to work with the Royal Australian Navy.

TOM IGGULDEN: Commander Legge says though Australia is a close ally of the United States tensions between Washington and Beijing aren't any of his business.

BRUCE LEGGE: Well I don't even think it's necessary to have the US here because it allows Australia to just concentrate on working together.

You know we're working very closely with China. We certainly don't need America to do that. And you can see just how forward we're moving with this.

TOM IGGULDEN: Last year Canberra named China as Australia's biggest strategic threat, prompting an angry response from the Chinese foreign ministry.

(Sound of a helicopter)

As an Australian Seahawk helicopter performs a daring winch manoeuvre hovering above the flight deck of the Chinese frigate that dispute it seems is ancient history.

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