From: Defence Media
Sent: Thu 20/11/2014 11:04 AM

Maritime search and rescue an Asia Pacific priority

Defence force personnel from Australia are in China for Exercise Cooperation Spirit 2014 which begins today.

The exercise aims to enhance coordination and cooperation between Australia, China and New Zealand in responding to unforeseen disasters that occur in the Asia-Pacific. This year the exercise is focussing on a maritime search and rescue response involving the Australian Defence Force, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the New Zealand Defence Force.

Captain Michael Harris (Royal Australian Navy), Commander of the Australian Contingent, said exercise Cooperation Spirit will enable Australia, China and New Zealand to enhance their ability to work closely together. This builds upon the shared experiences gained during the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Southern Indian Ocean.

“China, New Zealand and Malaysia were quick to provide maritime search aircraft and surface vessels in the search for MH370 in the Southern Indian Ocean – proving that there is a ‘cooperative spirit’ in our region in times of humanitarian crisis,” Captain Harris said.

Exercise Cooperation Spirit is a valuable opportunity to exchange lessons learned on an area of shared interest that has broader implications for the region.

“Developing defence relationships and practical defence cooperation with our Chinese and New Zealand counterparts, and with our regional partners, is key in positioning ourselves to better coordinate and work side by side in response to future search and rescue tasks and disasters in the region,” Captain Harris said.

The Australian Defence Force is committed to developing strong and positive bilateral defence relations with China through dialogue and practical engagement such as Exercise Cooperation Spirit.

Practical cooperation between our militaries plays an important role in building mutual trust.

The first iteration of this exercise was conducted as a humanitarian and disaster relief exercise in November 2011 as a bilateral activity between the Australian Defence Force and China’s Peoples’ Liberation Army in Sichuan Province.

Approximately 55 military personnel from the three nations will participate in the exercise which will take place at the Peoples Liberation Army – Navy Command College in Nanjing, China.

The exercise runs until 22 November 2014.

Media note:
Imagery is available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20143522

Media contact:
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999