China and Australia on Dec 2 agreed to boost their already close military relations, following an upgraded bilateral relationship and a breakthrough in free trade agreement (FTA) talks.
The pledge was the result of a meeting between Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission Fan Changlong, Australia’s Defence Force chief Mark Binskin and Australian Secretary of Defence Dennis Richardson, who were visiting China for an annual defense strategic dialogue.
China and Australia decided to upgrade their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership and concluded bilateral negotiations on an FTA on Nov. 17.
Applauding the improved ties, Fan said it marked “a new high of mutual political trust between our countries.”
“Military ties forge an important part of bilateral ties,” he said, noting that the two militaries have enjoyed sound relations, frequent high-level exchanges and deepened practical cooperation.
The two sides have worked closely in the search for missing Malaysian airlines flight MH370 as well as in peacekeeping, anti-terrorism, joint exercises and education exchanges, Fan said, vowing to further promote their military cooperation.
Richardson said a total of 45 items of cooperation or exchanges between both militaries were launched in 2014, accounting for much of the Australian armed forces’ coordination with foreign troops.
All senior Australian military officials visited China this year, including Defense Minister David Johnston, all three Australian Defence Force Service Chiefs, Binskin, and Richardson.
Binskin said Australia attaches importance to developing ties with the Chinese military, expressing hope that the two armed forces will boost practical cooperation and exchanges at various levels and in all areas.
Later on Dec 2, Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army Fang Fenghui held talks with Binskin and Richardson, and the two sides held their 17th annual Defence Strategic Dialogue.