Feb 14, 2014
RAAF scrambles plane to observe Chinese naval exercise
China carried out combat simulations at the beginning of the month between Christmas Island and Indonesia in an apparent flexing of its growing naval muscle.
China had not announced the exercise. When Australia became aware that the three Chinese vessels were sailing across the waters to the north, the Royal Australian Air Force sent an AP-3C Orion, to observe.
It was the first time China had carried out a military simulation in Australia's maritime approaches.
The three warships came through the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra, skirted along the southern side of Java - taking them close to Christmas Island - before turning north through the Lombok Strait next to Bali.
Analysts stressed China's move was legal - taking place in international waters - and not inherently hostile. But it did constitute a signal by Beijing that it meant to become a truly global naval power, which fundamentally changed Australia's strategic position.