Chinese military personnel attend an Australian naval conference in Sydney. (ABC News: Andrew Greene)
Chinese naval officers have flown to Sydney to monitor high-level military discussions and examine cutting edge technology being adopted by the Australian Defence Force.
- Eighty nations are attending the Australian Navy’s biennial Sea Power conference
- Defence confirmed six Chinese naval officers are present, while it is understood other Chinese military officials were denied access
- French company Naval Group said Australia’s $50 billion Future Submarine program was of interest to Chinese visitors
The People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLA-N) delegation is among more than 80 nations represented at the Australian Navy’s biennial Sea Power conference being held on Darling Harbour.
Defence has confirmed a total of six PLA-N officers are attending this year’s event, although the ABC understands several other Chinese military officials were denied access.
“PLA-N delegations have attended in similar numbers in recent years,” the Defence Department told the ABC in a statement.
The delegation is being led by the Deputy Commander of China’s South Sea Fleet, Rear Admiral Yu Manjiang, who held a bilateral meeting on Wednesday with the Australian Navy’s head of engineering, Rear Admiral Colin Lawrence.
On Tuesday, the visiting Chinese officers were also in the audience as the Commander of the US Pacific Fleet, Admiral John C. Aquilino, stressed the importance of America’s naval alliance with Australia in the Indo-Pacific region.
Members of the Chinese group have also spent much of the week inspecting weapons and defence equipment being displayed at the adjoining PACIFIC 2019 military trade show.
Australia’s secretive $50 billion Future Submarine fleet being designed by French company Naval Group is of particular interest to the Chinese visitors.
@navalgroup: Naval Group anounced some exiting news today by launching our new subsidiary Naval Group Pacific.
In a statement, Naval Group said it had “not received an official approach for a briefing on the Future Submarine Program by the Chinese delegation”.
However, Naval Group said it had “provided an unclassified briefing on our global capabilities, products and platforms to a number of delegations and members of industry who have visited our stand during PACIFIC 2019”.
Earlier this week Navy Chief Vice Admiral Michael Noonan said it was possible Australia’s new diesel-electric submarine fleet could eventually be switched to nuclear powered.