While Australians were enjoying a sunny winter morning got surprised by the sight of three Chinese warships in Sydney Harbour, forced the Prime Minister to encourage jittery residents.
Amid rising concern about Beijing’s military muscle flexing and growing clout, the surprising appearance of a Chinese flagged task group and over 700 sailors became astonished.
Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, “It may have been a surprise to others, but it certainly wasn’t a surprise to the government,” tried to dampen concerned.
“We have known about that for some time,” said PM Morrison of his visit during a tour to Solomon Islands.
The Prime Minister described it as a “reciprocal visit because Australian naval vessels have visited China,” adding that “they were returning after a counter drug trafficking operation in the Middle East.”
The surprising Chinese warships appeared to be the Luoma Lake, the Kunlun Shan, and Xychang, which are a replenishment ship, a Yuzhao class landing ship, and a modern frigate respectively that is considered to be fitted with surface-to-air and anti-submarine missile systems.
Timings of their visit has been questioned as well.
It came on the evening of the 30th anniversary of the violent defeat of Tiananmen protest.
Further it gunned down hundreds of its own citizens and imprisoned thousands for demand of political change and concluded to state corruption.
The sailing came just a few days after it was disclosed that a Chinese warship had challenged an Australian vessel in the South China Sea and Aussie helicopter pilots had been attacked with lasers.
PM Morrison said, “I think any reading into timing could be subject to a bit of overanalysis.”
After coming to power, Chinese President Xi Jinping has heavily invested in the People’s Liberation Army Navy, with an aim to project Chinese influence across the Pacific and beyond.
The National Security College at Australian National University Head Rory Medcalf tweets, “Chinese naval visits to Australia have more typically been a lone frigate, not a task group with an amphibious assault ship and 700 personnel.”
Medcalf claims, “Sydney is hardly a convenient stopover on their way home from the Gulf of Aden. What’s the story here?”