Melbourne: Australia and the United States
will invite China to join three-nation military exercises to
ease fears about Beijing`s growing military ambitions and
improve defence and diplomatic ties.
US Pacific Command chief Timothy Keating and chief of
the Australian Defence Forces Angus Houston met in Sydney this
week and decided to approach the Chinese Ministry of National
Defence separately to hold exercises and develop military
relations "at the earliest opportunity", the `Sydney Morning
Herald` newspaper reported today.
Keating, who heads the largest of America`s global
commands, said the US - like Australia - was concerned over
China`s military build-up appeared to extend beyond purely
defensive purposes. "We are anxious to engage with them," he
was quoted by as saying.
"We want to understand much better than we do now
China`s intentions. China does publish a (defence) white paper
but we find it to be less than fulfilling," he said.
Keating said the exercises would start with small naval
and land activities - to be followed by personnel exchanges -
and would mark a breakthrough for improving ties.
Asked whether strengthening ties would upset regional
allies and powers such as India, Japan and South Korea, he
said: "(Air Chief Marshal Houston and I) talked about that of
course. We can control the rheostat on this and invite nations
to observe and participate. It is a fairly simple thing to