The Secretary of Defence, Dr Ian Watt, and the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, today attended the 13th annual Australia-China Defence Strategic Dialogue.
The Dialogue was hosted by General Chen Bingde, Chief of General Staff, People’s Liberation Army and held in General Chen’s hometown of Nantong, Jiangsu Province, China.
Dr Watt said that the Dialogue was an integral component of Australia’s Defence engagement with China, and provided the opportunity to have frank and open conversations and to exchange views on areas of common interest.
“Today’s Dialogue facilitated constructive conversations on issues of mutual concern, deepened our personal and senior level ties and consolidated and built on our Defence engagement achievements,” Dr Watt said.
“I am encouraged by the frank and positive conversations we had today and I am pleased we agreed further avenues to foster cooperation and engagement on issues of mutual concern.”
Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said the Dialogue enhanced the Australia-China Defence relationship and emphasised the positive trajectory of Defence cooperation with China.
“This Dialogue is the cornerstone of our Defence engagement. We agreed to undertake Defence activities in a wide range of areas. These included maritime, engagement, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief cooperation, senior visits, personnel exchanges and educational and professional opportunities, and peacekeeping cooperation.” Air Chief Marshal Houston said.
“While our interests are often intertwined and our expectations of our expanding relationship are high, we also face challenges from time to time.
“Our ability to address these challenges and discuss issues in an open and transparent way is a sign of the growing maturity in our Defence engagement. We are committed to working with China to ensure a strong, stable and prosperous region,” Air Chief Marshal Houston said.
Following the dialogue, Dr Watt and Air Chief Marshal Houston met the Vice President and Deputy Chairman of the Central Military Commission Xi Jinping in Beijing.
Dr Watt said “the meeting with Xi Jinping was an important opportunity to affirm the strengths of the bilateral relationship and our military to military link.” Air Chief Marshal Houston said “We committed to continuing to develop our military relationship and practical cooperation together.”
The Australian Ambassador to China Dr Geoff Raby attended the Defence Strategic Dialogue and meeting with Xi Jinping.
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