- Australia should pursue an annual strategic and economic dialogue with China at the Cabinet Minister level.
- When elaborating on Australia's political and security challenges, political leaders should speak candidly about the uncertainties associated with China's rise.
- Ideological differences should not deter Australian officials at all levels from trying to gain a comprehensive understanding of Beijing's intentions and the thinking of Chinese officials on contentious issues. Understanding is not synonymous with endorsement.
Australia-China ties: in search of political trust
What is the problem?
Australia's political relationship with China is far less developed than its economic relationship. Senior Australian and Chinese political leaders do not meet regularly to discuss either regional issues or bilateral problems. This is detrimental to Australia's interests because China is both an economic power and a crucial political and security actor in the region. Underdeveloped political and strategic relations between Canberra and Beijing weaken Australia's ability to exert influence regionally. Australia risks being viewed by China's leaders merely as a provider of resources and – since the decision to base US Marines in Darwin for parts of the year – a junior partner of the United States. Moreover, there is a danger that problems in the bilateral relationship could escalate into a crisis due to the lack of familiarity and political trust between key Australian and Chinese decision-makers.
What should be done?
Australia's Prime Minister needs to clearly state Canberra's desire to build substantial political ties with Beijing with the goal of increasing political trust. Australia should pursue an annual strategic and economic dialogue with China at the Cabinet Minister level, with three strands: political, defence and economic. A fixed and regular forum with substantive working groups in each strand would over time increase clarity about each side’s intentions and allow officials to improve communication.
How Canberra should manage its relations with Beijing, given the importance of China economically, politically and militarily, is a question which divides Australians. There is general agreement that the rise of China will have a profound effect on the well-being and security of Australia. The consensus ends there.
Some maintain that a nearly exclusive focus on the economic dimensions of the relationship has detrimental consequences. These include the risk of Australia falling short of achieving the regional influence it aspires to and Australia being perceived as unable or unwilling to pursue an independent foreign policy. Furthermore, if political and strategic relations remain underdeveloped, it is conceivable that Canberra and Beijing will be unable to resolve problems within the economic relationship which inevitably emerge from time to time.
Others maintain that because Australia and China do not share values it is not in Australia's interest to forge close political and military ties with a one-party authoritarian state. China is above all an economic partner of Australia and should remain just that. There are also Australians who see no reason for Canberra to desire a meaningful political and strategic relationship with an emerging strategic competitor of the United States, Australia’s close ally.
No serious observer of Australia-China relations questions the importance to Australia of its strong commitment to the US alliance. Rather, opinions vary regarding the degree to which Australia should simultaneously commit to a non-economic partnership with China and how it should go about doing it. Put more bluntly, considering the uncertainties and even anxieties that China's growing power evokes, is it possible to hedge against the potential negative consequences of China's rise while at the same time striving for genuine trust with China? At present, Australia pays lip service to the notion of building trust with China by public assurances that Canberra wants to have both an ally in Washington and a friend in Beijing. Senior political leaders in Canberra repeat Washington's mantra that President Barack Obama's decision to ‘rebalance’ toward the Asia-Pacific does not target China, when in Beijing it is perceived as doing precisely that. Why emphasise the rotation of US marines when everyone – Chinese officials included – know that the marines are based in Darwin during the months when the climate is most suitable for them to train there? Why insist that Australia's and the United States' decision to strengthen defence cooperation is not about China?
Australia and China in the Indo-Pacific century
If Australia seeks to be perceived as a constructive and innovative regional power, it is in Australia's interest that its political leaders pave the way both at home and abroad for a more candid discussion of Australia's political and security challenges as a result of China's rise. This demands reinforcement by Australia's political leadership that Australia pursues a foreign policy which takes into account Australia's own needs. This also requires avoiding phrases which lack genuine substance. A more constructive starting point is the acknowledgement that China's growing political and military power gives rise to anxieties because no one knows with certainty how China will use its power. And because China's policy-making processes are not transparent there is a lack of trust among Australians, as highlighted by the 2012 Lowy Institute poll, that China's intentions are entirely benign. 
A fundamental transition of economic, political and military power is underway in the Indo-Pacific region. At the same time, interdependence among countries has grown exponentially. Both trends will transform the region's bilateral relationships and multilateral governance architecture, as well as the way people across the Indo-Pacific region live and think. Of course, India's and Indonesia's growing economic, political and military power will also affect Australia's future, but not to the same degree as will China. China is more likely to determine Australia's prosperity in the 21st century than any other country. Additionally, the degree of transparency in India and Indonesia is higher than in China, dispelling to a greater extent concerns among Australians about the intentions of those two regional powers.
Beijing's leaders are aware of the anxieties which China's rise causes. In private conversations in Beijing, Chinese officials from section heads all the way up to the minister level acknowledge that they too are uncertain about what kind of a power China will evolve into during the next few decades – despite official assurances of Beijing's pursuit of a harmonious world and peaceful development. This Policy Brief recommends that Australian political leaders, when elaborating in public on Australia's security needs, speak about these uncertainties, even anxieties, with regard to how China will use its power.
Admittedly, this is a tall order for any political leader because of the extremely fine line which must be drawn between speaking of uncertainty, anxiety and fear, on the one hand, and demonising China, on the other hand. Realpolitik requires well-informed, agile, thoughtful and far-sighted political leaders. Every country in the region is struggling with a similar China challenge. Australia can be a trail-blazer in the way in which it conducts both public diplomacy and traditional quiet diplomacy in this demanding and increasingly volatile strategic environment.
Australia's China rhetoric
Over the past 15 years no Australian political leader has defined the building of political trust as the foremost goal of Australia’s engagement with China. John Howard advocated that the countries focus on their convergent interests, namely economic interaction. But as Prime Minister, Howard lived in a different era. China was not yet the major political and military power it is today, nor did China contribute to Australia's prosperity to the same extent it does today. When Howard took office in 1996, Australia's exports to China constituted less than five per cent of Australia's total exports. Today, over a quarter of all exports are to China. Howard's successor, Kevin Rudd, attempted to leap straight into a relationship with China which is reminiscent of one between the best of friends, overlooking that close friendship is based on many years of mutual achievements and shared experiences. Rudd's emphasis on human rights in his maiden public speech in China prior to initiating mechanisms for establishing political trust simply alienated Beijing. The Gillard government, in turn, has repeatedly fallen back on the platitudes that Australia seeks robust economic ties with China and a relationship which contributes to a peaceful and stable region. The government's confidential high-level China strategy which Rudd approved before leaving office has not, in the two years since, led to a more meaningful political and strategic relationship with Beijing.
A central goal in the government’s forthcoming White Paper on Australia in the Asian Century should be to answer the question, ‘What does Australia want from China?’ Canberra needs to build its relationship with Beijing on the basis of its own national interests. At present, Beijing perceives Australian strategic objectives as being defined nearly exclusively through the prism of the US alliance. Australia should seek meaningful political and strategic ties with China which would enable Canberra and Beijing to candidly discuss and find mutually acceptable ways to manage diverging stances between the two countries on several complex but vital bilateral and regional issues.
One such bilateral issue concerns the legal status in China of Australians and their right to be treated in Chinese courts as Australian citizens, regardless of whether or not they were born in China. When Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr in May 2012 raised the cases of three Australian citizens, all sentenced to long prison terms in China, Carr said that he was told by his counterpart Yang Jiechi that China does not recognise dual nationality. These cases highlight concerns that Australians are treated differently if they are naturalised Australian citizens of ethnic Chinese descent. It is imperative that these concerns be discussed with Chinese officials at the most senior level.
An equally sensitive and important regional issue is China's desire to be more directly involved in sea-lane protection in the Western Pacific, which stems from China's resource insecurity. Australia’s approach could be to first pursue talks on this issue bilaterally, both with China and other countries in the region, including the United States, to establish a comprehensive understanding of each country's specific goals, capabilities and constraints, and only then pursue the issue at a multilateral forum. This should initially take place at semi-official meetings which enable mid-level officials and non-governmental experts to explore novel but possibly contentious approaches.
Canberra is in an advantageous position to engage with Beijing on key regional questions because Australia is a peripheral actor in China's 'near waters' – even though Australia would be affected if sovereignty disputes between China and its neighbours in the South and East China Seas resulted in military conflict and the consequent disruption of sea lines of communication. Australia could genuinely advance regional stability as an honest broker because it does not have emotionally driven territorial disputes with China, unlike Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, and India, for example. But this requires Australia being perceived by China as an honest broker with an independent foreign policy.
Neither of these two issues, described here merely as examples, can be resolved without political familiarity and trust at the most senior levels of government. This will require years of effort and a strong foundation.
Regular summit meetings
This Policy Brief further recommends that Australia strive to build meaningful political and strategic ties with China based on the premise that it is in Australia's interest for officials at all levels to have a comprehensive understanding of Beijing's intentions, its policies and the thinking of Chinese officials on contentious issues. Understanding is not synonymous with endorsement. To quote Richard Woolcott: ‘Just as alliance does not equate to compliance, understanding does not equate to agreement.’
High-level meetings which are fixed and occur at regular intervals provide a platform for senior leaders to meet regardless of their differences and regardless of the ups and downs which are inevitable in bilateral ties. They offer leaders a chance to shape their counterparts' perceptions and possibly even decisions. They also compel lower and mid-level officials to do their utmost to work through divergent views. When problems in the bilateral relationship occur, leaders who know each other can engage more frankly with their counterparts than those who are not well-acquainted.
A case in point is the success American and Chinese officials had earlier this year in handling two extremely sensitive cases of Chinese citizens turning up on the doorstep of American diplomats in China, seeking the protection of American authorities. The request for political asylum by former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun just before the visit to Washington by China's President-in-waiting Xi Jinping and the plea by blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng to receive help in relocating to the United States amidst the Sino-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED) could have caused a serious diplomatic rift had not Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and his Chinese counterpart Cui Tiankai had such a long history of talking to one another – about tough issues. That both cases were resolved without major damage to Sino-US ties attests to the maturity of the relationship. This can only be achieved through a commitment by both countries' most senior leaders to maintain constructive relations, constant engagement, and a willingness by both sides to communicate on any and all contentious issues.
Another case in point is the adverse effect the Stern Hu case in 2009 had on Australia-China relations. Several Australians and Chinese who were involved in handling the case following the arrest of the Rio Tinto manager by the Chinese authorities have said in off-the-record conversations that relations would not have spiraled downhill so rapidly had there been better communication between the two sides, and ‘if a senior leader would have known his counterpart well enough to pick up the phone and discuss the problem’.
China and the United States do not share common values when it comes to human rights and the need for accountability and transparency in governance, but this has not deterred each side from trying to gain an understanding of its counterpart's position nor from explaining their respective stances. There are over 60 regular dialogues in place between China and the United States in addition to the SED. If ideological differences do not deter the American government from regularly discussing a wide range of issues at the highest level with the Chinese government, Canberra should not be deterred either.
A further impetus for Australia to seek a structured, multifaceted dialogue with China at the highest possible level stems from the complexity of China's decision-making apparatus. China no longer speaks with one voice. Each of the 204 members of the Central Committee of China's Communist Party (and many of the 167 alternate members) has some political clout. To engage effectively with China on any given issue requires an understanding of the sometimes conflicting stances of numerous actors who have an input in the decision-making processes. These include actors within the official establishment (senior officials within the Communist Party of China and the government of the People's Republic of China as well as high-ranking officers of the People's Liberation Army) and actors on the margins (executives of state-owned enterprises, senior officials of local governments, as well as media commentators and influential foreign and security policy specialists with ties to Central Committee members). In their attempt to have sway over top decision-makers, many actors try to influence each other and public opinion. Australians need to take into consideration that there are omnidirectional influences at play.
Australians have invested time and resources to understand and successfully work with the complexities of the American political system. Now is the time to invest in China knowhow.
A latecomer knocking on China’s door
Given China's increasing political and strategic influence, as well as Australia's desire to contribute as a middle power to maintain a stable regional and international order, it is inexplicable that Canberra engages in a bilateral strategic dialogue with Beijing at the modest level of vice-minister on the Chinese side and DFAT Secretary on the Australian side. This is symptomatic of the predominantly economic lens through which Canberra sees the present relationship. China continues to be viewed as a country that purchases Australian natural resources more than any other country, whose students contribute to financing Australian higher education more than any other group of foreign students, and whose tourists spend more money than any other country's citizens when they visit Australia.
China has already indicated its desire for something more than a purely economic relationship. When visiting Australia in 2010, Vice-President Xi Jinping announced five, admittedly vaguely articulated, steps which could boost relations. More importantly, in a joint Australia-China report published in 2012, Cui Liru, an official of ministerial rank who has a direct communication channel to China's top leadership, wrote: ‘The strategic relationship between our two countries is clearly lagging behind the changes in the overall strategic situation in Asia and the Pacific. It is for this reason that it is a matter of pressing urgency as to how our two countries develop new forms of collaboration in the strategically complex environment of Asia and the Pacific so that the shift of global gravity will be more assured...’ Obama's speech in Canberra in November 2011 and the Darwin announcement put Australia on the radar screen of Chinese strategic thinkers. While previously Australia was perceived in Beijing as a rather innocuous player in regional security, in the past six months Chinese security and defence analysts have shown an interest to more clearly understand Australia's strategic intent. Recurring high-level meetings between the countries' senior leaders would give Australians an opportunity to convey Canberra's thinking on the Australia-US alliance.
Energetic defence cooperation
Interestingly, on the defence side, Australia and China have developed cooperation more energetically than in the political sphere (see Table 1 in Appendix). Since 2004, Australian Defence Forces (ADF) and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) have participated in six joint exercises (although most were naval exercises limited in scope). The Chief (or Deputy Chief) of Staffs have held annual talks since 1997. PLA officers receive training in Australia. The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has paid ten ship visits to mainland China. The long list of interaction between ADF / RAN and the PLA / PLAN looks impressive, but in research interviews for this Policy Brief, Australian defence officials conceded that on substantive issues defence cooperation has hitherto merely scratched the surface. The present level of engagement between ADF and the Indonesian defence forces (TNI) should be a goal. However, though the Australian-Chinese defence relationship has the potential to expand, it cannot progress much further without the foundation for political trust being laid.
Unfortunately, Canberra will now discover that it is a latecomer knocking at Beijing's door. China will not readily consent to a strategic dialogue at the level of Cabinet minister. Numerous countries, including Canada, are making similar requests, and Beijing is increasingly reluctant to commit senior leaders' time. Among G-20 nations, Cabinet ministers of the European Union, Germany, India, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States already have regular strategic dialogues with their Chinese counterparts.
There are presently ten agreed-upon regular dialogues or consultations between Australian and Chinese officials on issues including climate change, defence, higher education, human rights, resource exploration, strategic issues, tourism and trade (see Table 2 in Appendix). There are also scores of ad hoc meetings between officials and academics from both countries on an even wider range of issues. But this is simply not enough.
Recommended first steps by the Australian government include:
A statement by Australia's Prime Minister that Canberra seeks meaningful political and strategic ties with Beijing in order to build political trust between the two governments.
Initiation of an annual, structured high-level strategic and economic dialogue with China. The dialogue should be held at a minimum at the Cabinet Minister level and include three strands: political, defence and economic.
Avoidance by political leaders of meaningless rhetoric when speaking about the uncertainties of how China will use its power.
Establishment of an annual, comprehensive exchange program for the next generation of Australian and Chinese leaders, which provides small group lectures and discussions on political and security issues (not trade). The exchange program should target younger Australian state officials, members of parliament and party officials, on the one hand, and vice governors and deputy party secretaries in China's provinces and mayors of major Chinese cities, on the other hand. These are the people who in the next ten years will rise to paramount positions of power in China. It would be in Australia's interests that at least one of China's top leaders in 2022 has an intimate knowledge of Australia and long-standing personal relationships within Australian elite circles.
Inclusion of China in proposed multi-national disaster relief and humanitarian assistance exercises involving Australia, Indonesia and the United States. After two or three rounds of multi-national exercises Canberra should extend an invitation to China for PLA forces to ‘be rotated in and out’ of Darwin to jointly continue disaster relief and humanitarian assistance training with the ADF.
Commitment of resources to substantially strengthen Australia's diplomatic presence in China.
Establishment of an annual 'strategic security dialogue' on contentious bilateral and regional issues in the political and strategic spheres among senior staff of leading Chinese and Australian security and defence 'think tanks' as well as mid-level security and defence officials of both countries. (The United States and China held a similar 'strategic security dialogue' for the second time in conjunction with the Strategic Economic Dialogue in May 2012.)
Commission an in-depth study of the strategic and defence community in China. Several Australian officials stress the need to obtain a clearer picture of the multilayered structure of the strategic and defence community in Beijing. This would also facilitate a more nuanced interpretation of statements and articles by Chinese strategic analysts and military officers.
Commitment of resources and incentives for Australian diplomats and military officers to acquire necessary language proficiency. Far more Chinese officers come to Australia than Australian officers go to China for military education, due to a lack of Mandarin skills.
Commitment of resources to support Australians to pursue undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Chinese politics and strategic thought at Chinese institutions of higher learning.
 This Policy Brief focuses on steps which the Australian government should take to improve political and strategic relations between Australia and China, while acknowledging that much could also be done to deepen trade, investment, societal and cultural ties between the two countries as well as strengthen Australia's other key relations in the region.
 Gillard seeks to reassure China on US presence, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 November 2011.
 Smith, Stephen, Interview with Barrie Cassidy, ABC, 3 June 2012: http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/2012/06/03/minister-for-defence-interview-with-barrie-cassidy-insiders-abc-2/.
 Hanson, Fergus, The Lowy Institute poll 2012: Australia and New Zealand in the world – public opinion and foreign policy, 5 June 2012, pp 3, 12. Compared to Australia’s relatively warm view of the United States and Japan (71 and 70 respectively), Australians rated China at 59 (below both Malaysia and South Korea). The poll also highlights Australian views towards Chinese investment, stating 37% of respondents thought Australia was allowing too much Chinese investment in Australia because ‘it is hard to trust China’.
 Dupont, Alan, Living with the dragon: why Australia needs a China strategy, Lowy Institute Policy Brief, June 2011, p 3.
 The Howard government introduced the concept of 'strategic economic partnership' with China in its 2003 foreign affairs white paper. See Uren, David, The Kingdom and the quarry: China, Australia, fear and greed, Black Inc., 2012, pp 114-116.
 When Howard left office in 2007, Australia's exports to China made up 13.6 per cent of total exports. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Yearbook Australia, 1997 and 2008 – International accounts and trade.
 ABC Radio Australia, ANZUS military ties and China, Jim Middleton interview with Prime Minister Gillard, 22 November 2011: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2011-11-22/anzus-military-ties-and-china/282776.
 China imports about 55 % of its oil. See e.g. Kennedy, Andrew B, China’s new energy security debate, Survival, 52(3) June-July 2010.
 Dupont, Alan, Living with the dragon, p 10.
 Wen, Philip, Jailed executives are Chinese, Carr told, The Age, 15 May 2011.
 Woolcott, Richard, How a US ally can be friends with China, Sydney Morning Herald, 12 March 2012.
 An excellent overview of the United States’ engagement with China is: Lawrence, Susan V and Lum, Thomas, US-China relations: policy issues, Congressional Research Service Report R41108, 11 March 2011, tables A-2 and A-3, pp 32-33.
 Jakobson, Linda and Knox, Dean, New foreign policy actors in China, SIPRI Policy Paper 26/2010.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Yearbook Australia 2012 – International accounts and trade.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian social trends, December 2011. Chinese international students receive approximately 20% of all student visas granted in Australia, the largest by volume, leading India (12%) and South Korea (5%). In terms of total international student enrollments in Australia, China accounts for more than one quarter (27%).
 Tourism Research Australia, International visitors in Australia – March 2012 quarterly results of the international visitor survey, 6 June 2012. China is the third largest source of tourists in Australia (behind New Zealand and the United Kingdom). However, Chinese tourists have the largest total inbound economic value (TIEV), spending on average $3.5 billion in Australia annually (around $900 million more than visitors from the United Kingdom).
 Xi Jinping’s five steps included increasing mutual trust, expanding cooperation, enhancing people-to-people and cultural exchange, and properly handling sensitive issues. See Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Australia, Xi Jinping, Kevin Rudd call for boosting China-Australia ties, 21 June 2010: http://au.china-embassy.org/eng/zagx/t710458.htm.
 Australian Centre on China in the World and China Institutes for Contemporary International Relations, Australia and China: a joint report on the bilateral relationship, February 2012. The report is co-authored by writing groups at the Australian Centre on China in the World, ANU and the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, CICIR, Beijing. Cui Liru is the President of CICIR, one of China's most influential security policy research institutions under the Ministry of State Security. Cui's position is unique among Chinese research institute heads because he has direct access to President Hu Jintao. See Jakobson, Linda and Knox, Dean, New foreign policy actors in China.
 Since moving from Beijing to Sydney in April 2011, the author has met with Chinese security policy officials in Beijing on four visits (May, October 2011; March, May 2012).
 Compiled from data on websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence of the People’s Republic of China as well as information provided by the Royal Australian Navy.
 Information retrieved from relevant foreign ministry, embassy and news service websites. All countries listed have regular bilateral strategic dialogues with China at the Cabinet Minister level or above, except Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister is part of the regular strategic dialogue between China and the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council.
 Geoff Raby, Australia's Ambassador to China 2007-2011, elaborates on the structure of a high-level dialogue mechanism in his submission to the Asia Century White Paper. He also advocates that the Business Roundtable could be timed to coincide with the Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Raby's submission is available at: http://asiancentury.dpmc.gov.au/published-submissions.
 Smith, Stephen, Speech in the plenary session on deterrence and regional security, Shangri-La Dialogue, 2 June 2012: http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/2012/06/02/minister-for-defence-deterrence-and-regional-security-at-the-11th-international-institute-for-strategic-studies-singapore/. A major outcome of the first Australia-Indonesia Foreign and Defence Ministers (‘2+2’) Dialogue in Canberra in March 2012 was the idea of conducting a trilateral Australia-Indonesia-United States humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise off Darwin within the East Asia Summit’s humanitarian assistance and disaster relief framework.
 It is possible that China will initially refuse an invitation to join the ADF in joint exercises, and even in the event that it accepts, it will probably first send observers. China has in the past refused an invitation to join the biennial multilateral Kakadu maritime exercise. See Medcalf, Rory, Unselfish giants: understanding China and India as security providers, Australian Journal of International Affairs, 65(4) 2011, pp 1-13.
 The strategic security dialogue is jointly chaired by a US Deputy Secretary of State and Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister. See Xinhua News, China, US hold second strategic security dialogue: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2012-05/02/c_131564757.htm.
Table 1: Formalised dialogues between Australia and China
Table 2: Military exchange and joint exercises between Australia and China*
Human Rights Dialogue
Deputy Secretary of DFAT
Vice Foreign Minister
Defence Strategic Dialogue
Secretary of Defence, Chief or Vice Chief of Defence Force
Chief or Deputy Chief of PLA General Staff
University Leaders Forum (formerly High Education Forum)
University leaders; ministerial involvement not yet determined
University leaders; ministerial involvement yet to be determined
Bilateral Resources and Energy Dialogue
Senior bureaucrats from Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism
Senior bureaucrats from National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC)
Consultation on Issues Related to Pacific Island Countries
Deputy Secretary of DFAT
Vice Foreign Minister
Secretary of DFAT
Vice Foreign Minister
Ministerial Dialogue on Climate Change
Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
Vice Chairman of NDRC, Minister responsible for climate change
High Level Economic Cooperation Dialogue (HLECD)
Minister for Trade
Bilateral Health Policy Dialogue
Minister of Health; supported by AusAID
Minister of Health; supported by Chinese Ministry of Health
Bilateral Tourism Dialogue
Representatives from Tourism Australia and Australian Department of Tourism.
Representatives from Chinese National Tourism Administration
Type of exchange
Three Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ships visit Qingdao
Three Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ships visit Sydney
A group of RAN ships visit Shanghai
A RAN ship visits Shanghai
RAN ship HMAS Success visits Shanghai
A group of PLAN ships visits Sydney
RAN ship HMAS Sydney visits Qingdao
RAN ship HMAS Anzac visits Qingdao. Search-and-rescue drill. First joint exercise between RAN and PLAN
Shanghai & Zhanjiang
RAN guided missile frigate HMAS Canberra joins a brief exercise with a PLAN ship
Regional Counter Terrorist Subject Matter Expert Exchange. Participants: Australian Special Forces, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, US, Vietnam
RAN ships HMAS Parramatta and HMAS Perth visit Shanghai
Drill on communications, fleet formation, vessel supply, and search-and-rescue involving one RAN ship, one New Zealand RNZN ship and two PLAN ships
RAN ships HMAS Success and HMAS Pirie visit Qingdao
Qingdao & Zhanjiang
Exercise & ship visit
RAN ship HMAS Warramunga visits Qingdao. Joint live-fire exercise, joint helicopter operations, search and rescue drills and personnel exchange between ADF and PLAN
Joint manoeuvre exercise involving two PLAN ships and one RAN ship
Waters off the coast of Darwin
China-Australia joint maritime exercise and training involving two PLAN ships and one RAN ship
Disaster Relief Exercise involving ADF and PLA
RAN ship HMAS Ballarat visit marks 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations
* Only includes ship visits to mainland China (excluding Hong Kong).