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Haiwainet.cn: What Does Australia Want to Do with the Largest Military Exercise Encircling China in 30 Years?

Haiwainet.cn (the official website for People’s Daily overseas edition) published a commentary article on the recent military exercises of the Australian Navy’s “Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2017.” Below is an excerpt from the article:

According to an Australian Defense Magazine report, the Australian Navy will be conducting military exercises, starting on September 4, in the Indian Ocean and in the Pacific with the code-name, “Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2017.” During the three months of military exercises, the Australian Army fleet will also visit a number of countries including Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Brunei, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, and Indonesia. Excluding Vietnam, the Australian Army fleet will visit almost all countries across the South China Sea and the East China Sea that surround China. What does it mean that Australia’s military exercise route is “encircling” China?

Gao Cheng, a researcher at the Asia-Pacific and Global Strategy Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences mentioned in an interview with Naihai.com that Australia wants to conduct this exercise in order to please the United States and to take this opportunity to consolidate the alliance between the two countries. We can also regard it as Australia’s position toward the United States. In fact, with the recent increase in the amount of attention Australia’s Navy is receiving, the Australian Army is holding a large number of joint exercises with the United States and Japan each year to enhance Australia’s international influence. We also observed that Australia, as a foreign country, is often very active in commenting on South China Sea issues.

Recently,  (China’s) domestic media created a cartoon ridiculing Australia: Australia is depicted as a loudspeaker that a United States radio station set up in the Asia-Pacific. It works very hard and is very proud, but it is becoming more and more like noise in the area. Gao Cheng agreed with this symbolism. He further pointed out that Australia belongs to the “first echelon” in the Asia-Pacific region in its support for the United States. It often acts as the “assistant police” for the United States in the region. However, it also “swings” politically. The honeymoon period with China from the beginning of 2017 fully explains this point. The United States is Australia’s most important ally. China is Australia’s most important trading partner. Australia faces a tough problem trying to balance between these two, but time has proven that, as a “hardcore” ally of the U.S., it is difficult for Australia to get rid of the United States’ political influence.

Gao Cheng said that although it “swings,” Australia’s “pro-U.S.” stance is consistent. Australia boasts, as a “mid-level power,” that it likes to seek dominance in the South Pacific. However, it is impossible to achieve this goal using its own capacity for technology. It needs the support of its U.S. ally. At the same time, Australia regards America as its most trusted ally in security.

Source: haiwainet.cn (People’s Daily), September 7, 2017
http://nanhai.haiwainet.cn/n/2017/0907/c3542184-31106801.html

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