Australia has been accused of “encircling” China, in an article published by the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, The People’s Daily.
The analysis article discusses Australia’s involvement in the ongoing Indo-Pacific Endeavour multinational military exercises, which started on September 4.
The exercises are likely to involve 1200 Australian Defence Force personnel and HMAS Adelaide.
The article suggested that because Australian ships would cross the South China Sea and the East China Sea, they were directed at China. “Excluding Vietnam, the Australian Army fleet will visit almost all countries across the South China Sea and the East China Sea that surround China,” the article’s author wrote.
“What does it mean that Australia’s military exercise route is ‘encircling’ China?”
Australia was only participating in the exercises to please the US, the article argued.
It quoted an academic from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Gao Cheng, who said he agreed Australia was simply a “loudspeaker” set up in the Asia Pacific by a US radio station.
“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,” the article’s author wrote.
The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences is closely affiliated with the China’s state council.
The People’s Daily article said Australia’s navy had recently attracted more attention and was holding “a large number” of joint exercises with Japan and the US.
“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,’’ it said.
The exercises, however, involve several nations, including Brunei, Cambodia, the Federated States of Micronesia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, The Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and East Timor.
At the end of August the Australian, Chinese and American armies conducted joint Army exercises in Cairns.
Experts have suggested the United States under Donald Trump is unlikely to adopt a new Asia policy despite setting out a schedule for patrols in South China Sea.
Australia has been encouraged to build regional alliances with growing expectations of a decline of US influence in the region.
By PRIMROSE RIORDAN