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Thu Oct 29, 2015 7:30AM
Australia’s Defense Minister Marise Payne

Australia’s Defense Minister Marise Payne

Two Australian warships will join the Chinese Navy in the South China Sea to hold naval exercises in disputed waters there, Australia’s Defense Minister Marise Payne says.

Anzac-class HMAS Stuart and HMAS Arunta frigates of the Royal Australian Navy will soon arrive at China’s main base of Zhanjiang in a port call ahead of the drills scheduled for early next week, Payne said on Thursday.

“The Royal Australian Navy has a long history of engagement with regional navies and regularly conducts port visits and exercises – including in China,” she said.

The development comes just days after a US Navy guided-missile destroyer entered waters close to islands where China is said to be doing construction work in the sea.

Payne dismissed any changes or delays to the schedule of the drills “since the United States activity” in the South China Sea. She, however, stopped short of providing any information about the exact location of the exercises.

This file photo shows the Anzac-class HMAS Stuart frigate of the Royal Australian Navy.

 

On October 27, the USS Lassen sailed near what is referred to in the West as the Spratly Islands archipelago, a disputed group of hundreds of reefs, islets, atolls and islands in the South China.

 

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