A top Australian envoy on Tuesday claimed China is putting together the “largest” conventional military build-up since the Second World War, without clarifying the strategic purpose behind the exercise.
Australia has sought to stabilise its relationship with China after a “difficult period”, he said.
“China is engaging in the largest conventional military buildup that the world has seen since the Second World War. And, this buildup is happening without an explanation of its strategic purpose or any reassuring statecraft.
“To be clear, Australia values the productive engagement we have with China, and we have sought to stabilise our relationship after a difficult period. Dialogue has recommenced, including in the important area of defence,” Philip Green, the Australian High Commissioner to India, said, without elaborating on the exact area of the military buildup.
China has disputes with almost all its neighbours over maritime and land borders, including in the South China Sea, an area of special interest to Australia.
Green was speaking here at the ‘Kolkata Dialogue – Australia and India: Working Together to Build Island State Resilience’, organised by the Australia India Institute in partnership with India’s Observer Research Foundation.
The Kolkata Dialogue is happening as the two-day 13th Indo-Pacific Armies Chiefs’ Conference started in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Australia and China resumed a high-level dialogue earlier this month after a hiatus of three years.
“… But we need to acknowledge what we see in the world. And, one of those realities is military buildup and its potential to destabilise,” Green said.
The US, India and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China’s rising military manoeuvring in the region.
The Indo-Pacific is a biogeographic region, comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea.
China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has reportedly built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea.