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Australian Defence Chief Visits China

DPAO 78/00
Thursday, April 27, 2000

DEFENCE CHIEF VISITS CHINA

The Chief of the Defence Force, Admiral Chris Barrie, finished an eight day visit to China today that underlined Australia's growing military contacts with China.

Since arriving in Beijing on April 19, Admiral Barrie has had talks with his Chinese counterpart, Chief of the General Staff, General Fu Quanyou, as well as visiting various military units around the country.

Apart from the People's Liberation Army Headquarters, Admiral Barrie also visited the 24 Air Division, the National Defence University and the Commission of Science, Technology and Industries for National Defence. In Beijing he called on senior members of the Central Military Commission, including Vice Chairman Zhang Wan Nian and held fruitful discussions with the Chinese Foreign Minister, Tang Jaixuan. He then travelled to Xi'an to visit the 47 Group Army headquarters, Guilin to see the Guangzhou Military Region Army Academy, and finally to Shanghai Wusong Naval Base to inspect a ship.

"There is no doubt that our future security lies in working with our friends and neighbours to build a more prosperous and peaceful Asia/Pacific region," Admiral Barrie said. "Australia's security is very much linked to events in our region, where China is a major player.

"It is particularly important that we have a relationship that allows both of us to understand each other's strategic perceptions and concern. Establishing habits of strategic dialogue that build confidence between our countries is a fundamental part of this process. This is particularly so when our interests may diverge from time to time.

"Since 1997 when our Prime Minister and China's President agreed that an enhanced defence relationship would be in the interests of both countries, activities have grown rapidly with high level strategic dialogue through Ministerial and senior level visits and annual Strategic Dialogue Talks. We have also had regular naval ship visits, staff college exchanges and study visits.

"Both countries are focusing at the moment on identifying opportunities to establish more regular exchanges between members of defence force think tanks, staff colleges and policy-related areas," Admiral Barrie said.

"We will continue to pursue defence relations that promote the concept that all in the Asia/Pacific region will best secure our individual national interests by improving regional security through openness and dialogue."

Further information: Mignon Patterson
(02) 62656340/0412 254 399


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