Australia on Thursday said it will go ahead with live-fire naval exercises with China, even after close ally the United States sent a warship into the disputed South China Sea this week.
Washington infuriated Beijing on Tuesday when it sent its USS Lassen destroyer within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands in a challenge to China’s claims in the South China Sea.
The United States said the incident was a routine freedom-of-navigation operation, and vowed to send more ships.
On Thursday, a spokesman for Payne said that contrary to reports, two Royal Australian Navy ships would still take part in exercises with their Chinese counterparts off the southeastern Chinese coast near the disputed Spratly Islands.
“HMAS ships Stuart and Arunta will visit Zhanjiang, in Guangdong province, China, soon during their North Asia deployment,” the spokesman said in a statement.
The exercises are expected to start in the coming days, although no precise dates were given.
Full article: Key US Ally to Proceed with South China Sea War Games with Beijing (Sputnik News)