Three Chinese warships were docked for a mutual visit a day before the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. People enjoying a morning were surprised by the sight of three Chinese warships coming into to Sydney Harbour Monday, forcing the prime minister to do something to remove the doubts of residents. The appearance of a Chinese flagged group and around 700 sailors came there as a surprise. “It may have been a surprise to others, but it certainly wasn’t a surprise to the government,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison, trying to lower the worries of the people. “We have known about that for some time,” he said of the visit during a trip to the Solomon Islands. The three People’s Liberation Army Navy warships docked at Garden Island on Monday morning for a four day stay. Morrison described it as a “reciprocal visit because Australian naval vessels have visited China.” “They were returning after a counter drug trafficking operation in the Middle East.”
Speaking to reporters in the Solomon Islands, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the visit had been in place for some time regardless of the visit not being announced publicly. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “Australian naval vessels have visited China. This was a program of a reciprocal visit. That is a further demonstration of the relationship that we have.” He also said that the ships were returning from a counter drug trafficking operation in the Middle East. The timing of their visit has also been questioned. They comes on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the violent act of ending Tiananmen protests. The deadly massacre on the 1989, pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square Beijing, where Chinese authorities shot down hundreds of their own citizens and jailed thousands for asking for a political change and an end to state corruption.
When asked about the timing of the two events Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there was no connection. The Department of Defence have confirmed the arrival of three warships and they said it was an arrangement regularly facilitated each year. A spokesperson from the department said the “routine port visit” had logistical goals as well broader aims to deepen ties between the two countries. “Port visits are conducted by all navies to undertake basic logistics and resupply activities, low level maintenance and provide valuable opportunities for crew respite. “The Australian Government is committed to maintaining a long-term constructive relationship with China, founded on shared interests and mutual respect.” “I think any reading into timing could be subject to a bit of over analysis,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“Chinese naval visits to Australia have more typically been a lone frigate, not a task group with an amphibious assault ship and 700 personnel,” Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at Australian National University, tweeted. The sailing also comes just days after it was revealed that a Chinese warship had recently attacked an Australian vessel in the South China Sea and Australian helicopter pilots had been targeted with lasers. The last Australian vessel to visit through the reciprocal arrangement was the HMAS Melbourne, which visited the Chinese port city of Qingdao in late April as part of an International Fleet Review managed by China’s military forces. After coming to power, President Xi Jinping has invested highly in the People’s Liberation Army Navy.