China's navy takes part in joint exercise off coast of Australia

Chinese submarines and warships taking part in a fleet review in 2009.
Chinese submarines and warships taking part in a fleet review in 2009. PHOTO: REUTERS

BRISBANE (Bloomberg) - The Australian and Chinese navies have taken part in an exercise off the coast of Queensland, as the two nations seek to cement security relations.

The HMAS Darwin joined three Chinese ships, including the Luyang Class destroyer Jinan and a frigate, for the drill and the Chinese task group will now spend five days in the Queensland state capital, Brisbane, Australia's Defence Department said in an e-mailed statement.

"Activities such as this provide both countries with an opportunity to operate in close proximity and increase their knowledge of each other's operating procedures," Australia's Chief of Navy, Vice-Admiral Tim Barrett, said in the statement.

Australia walks a diplomatic tightrope between its most important security ally, the United States, and its largest trading partner, China. The balancing act has come under pressure amid criticism by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's government of China's territorial expansion into waters off its eastern and southern coasts.

The task group, which took part in counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden last year and has visited more than a dozen countries in the past five months, will return home in early 2016, according to the statement.