Shock as three Chinese warships make a ‘secret’ visit to Australia – sailing into Sydney Harbour with sailors in combat uniform on deck – in stunning display of Beijing’s military might
- Three Chinese warships have arrived into Sydney and docked on Garden Island base for four day stopover
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the federal government knew about unannounced visit ‘for some time’
- Ships were returning from counter-drug trafficking operation in the Middle East and part of reciprocal visit
Published: 21:33 EDT, 2 June 2019 | Updated: 22:51 EDT, 2 June 2019
Three Chinese warships with 700 sailors on board will spend the next four days docked in Sydney Harbour on an unannounced visit.
Sydneysiders have reacted with surprise to the sudden appearance of a People’s Liberation Army frigate, an auxiliary replenishment ship, and an amphibious vessel docked at Garden Island.
Footage has emerged of the warships’ arrival into Sydney on Monday morning with sailors lined up on the ships in combat uniform.
The ships have since docked at the Royal Australian Navy base in Potts Point in a visit that was recently approved by the federal government.
Three Chinese warships arrived at Sydney’s Garden Island on Monday for a four day stopover
The visiting ships include a People’s Liberation Army frigate, an auxiliary replenishment ship, and an amphibious vessel
Speaking to reporters in the Solomon Islands on his first post-election trip to the Pacific, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the stopover had been in place for ‘some time’.
He said it was a reciprocal visit after Australian naval vessels recently visited China.
‘It may have been a surprise to others but it certainly wasn’t a surprise to the government,’ Mr Morrison told reporters.
‘[The Chinese vessels] were returning from counter-drug trafficking operations in the Middle East and that is a further demonstration of the relationship we have.’
‘I think any reading into timing could be subject to a bit of over-analysis.’
More than 700 Chinese navy sailors are in Sydney for what Prime Minister Scott Morrison has described as a reciprocal visit
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government has known about the visit from the Chinese naval ships for a while
The visit from Chinese sailors to Sydney comes after Australian naval vessels recently visited China
Daily Mail Australia has contacted the Department of Defence for comment.
Mr Morrison dismissed suggestions the timing is contentious, which comes on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
There was a mixed reaction from the public on social media to the incredible strength of military power on display on Sydney Harbour.
Sydneysiders have reacted with surprise to seeing the visiting Chinese warships at Garden Island on Monday morning
The Chinese sailors are on a four day stopover after returning from counter-drug trafficking operations in the Middle East
But others have questioned Mr Morrison as to why the visit wasn’t publicly announced prior.
‘As you have pledged $250 million to the Solomon Islands to curb China’s influence, could you likewise let the Australian public know the cost to the taxpayer to host these Chinese warships at for four days? And equally importantly, why are they here?,’ one man tweeted.
Australian National University’s Head of National Security College Professor Rory Medcalf also questioned the visit.
‘This is actually quite something. Chinese naval visits to Australia have more typically been a lone frigate, not a task group with an amphibious assault ship and 700 personnel. Sydney is hardly a convenient stopover on their way home from the Gulf of Aden,’ he tweeted.
The visit comes a week after the ABC revealed Chinese military ships had recently tailed the Australian Navy in a recent transit of the South China Sea.
The Department of Defence confirmed it had a ‘professional’ and ‘friendly’ interaction with the People’s Liberation Army during Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019, an Australian Defence Force regional engagement mission.
Mr Morrison warned against defining Australia’s relationships in the Pacific as tensions grow between US and China.
‘We have got to be careful not to see what are ongoing and upgrading relationships here for Australia and the Pacific through those binary terms of the United States and China,’ Mr Morrison told reporters.
Footage has emerged of the naval ships’ grand entrance into Sydney Harbour before docking on Garden Island
The surprise visit from the Chinese naval ships attracted a lot on attention from Sydneysiders and tourists on Monday