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A Surprise Chinese Naval Visit To Sydney Harbour: The Symbol Of Quiet Invasion – OpEd


Earlier this week three Chinese warships, a Peoples Liberation Armey (PLA) frigate, a replenishment ship, and an amphibious craft, with a brigade of PLA marines made an apparent surprise visit to Sydney Harbour.


Apparently the Chinese Naval contingent has been on anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden before stopping at the Australian Naval Base on Garden Island for four days. According to the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, speaking from the Solomon Islands, the Chinese goodwill visit is reciprocating an Australian Naval ship which visited Qingdao last April. Morrison further stated that the visit of the Chinese ships had long been planned, even though no public announcement prior to the visit was made.

However the unannounced visit by the Chinese flotilla caused several apprehensions to ring through the media.

There have been reports of Chinese Naval vessels shadowing Australian Naval vessels in the South China Sea recently. The national broadcaster ABC also claimed that the Chinese visit came as a complete surprise.

Australian National University Professor and defence expert Rory Medcalf according to Business Insider Australia was unconvinced by Australian Government efforts to reassure the public that the Chinese visit was planned. Medcalf went on to say that the Chinese visit was part of an effort by the Chinese to make a serious show of presence in the South Pacific and there is much more to the story.

Debate about Chinese influence in Australia has been going on for some time now. However this debate is going on after the horse has already bolted away from the cart.


China through Confucius Institutes located at several Australian Universities already yield some influence within university campuses. China already controls important strategic pieces of Australian infrastructure like Darwin Port. China already has strong equity stakes in Australia’s mining and agriculture. It has also long been acknowledged that there are spies within the large Chinese population living in Australia.

China has developed great influence with Australia’s Pacific neighbours through its ‘infrastructure and debt’ strategy. China has got away with building multiple scientific research bases on Australian Antarctic Territory, without even a whimper of protest from the Australian Government.

It’s highly questionable how much effort the Australian Government is really making to stem the increasing tide of influence China is gaining in Australia. A large number of Australian politicians upon their parliamentary retirements end up working as consultants to Corporations closely aligned with either the Chinese Communist Party of government.

There is a major question of loyalty to the nation that has to be resolved. Basing loyalty on citizenship doesn’t work here. With the election of the first Chinese born (Hong Kong) Australian to parliament in the recent federal election, this question of loyalty must be much more deeply examined. A Chinese born MP Yang Jian in New Zealand has been accused of being a spy. It’s just a matter of time before the same type of scandal happens in Australia.

Loyalty can never be proven until it’s too late.

China doesn’t view sovereignty in the same way other nations do. China sees the importance of potential rather than actual influence and physical presence. China’s interests are not ideological, not political, not about control of territory, but rather about commence, acquiring technology and gaining secure supply of strategic items.

Thus China’s strategy is not completely a military one. Chinese strategy is about business, economics, seeking technology, all requiring non-military tools.

This is why Australia’s defence strategy has completely failed at holding back Chinese influence. Australia’s strategy was militarily based while China uses tools like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Confucius Institutes, and its most powerful tool, its expatriate nationals living in Australia.

The invasion of Australia started just after the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, when former Prime Minister Bob Hawke allowed 50,000 Chinese Nationals living in Australia to stay permanently. Ironically the visit of the three Chinese Naval ships this week occurred on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. The quiet invasion is continuing.

Originally published in the Asia Sentinel

Murray Hunter

Murray Hunter has been involved in Asia-Pacific business for the last 30 years as an entrepreneur, consultant, academic, and researcher. As an entrepreneur he was involved in numerous start-ups, developing a lot of patented technology, where one of his enterprises was listed in 1992 as the 5th fastest going company on the BRW/Price Waterhouse Fast100 list in Australia. Murray is now an associate professor at the University Malaysia Perlis, spending a lot of time consulting to Asian governments on community development and village biotechnology, both at the strategic level and “on the ground”. He is also a visiting professor at a number of universities and regular speaker at conferences and workshops in the region. Murray is the author of a number of books, numerous research and conceptual papers in referred journals, and commentator on the issues of entrepreneurship, development, and politics in a number of magazines and online news sites around the world. Murray takes a trans-disciplinary view of issues and events, trying to relate this to the enrichment and empowerment of people in the region.

One thought on “A Surprise Chinese Naval Visit To Sydney Harbour: The Symbol Of Quiet Invasion – OpEd

  • June 8, 2019 at 7:38 am

    The issue of China building bases on Australia’s Antarctic Territory shows a lack of knowledge about how the Antarctic Treaty works. All territorial claims are suspended so anyone can build a base pretty much anywhere as long as they are doing science and comply with the environmental protocols. China is not the only one with bases in Australia’s claimed territory. The Russians have bases on Australia’s claimed territory (Vostok Base, Druznaya 4, Mirny and Progress 2), so do the French and Italians (a joint base – Concordia) and we have a joint base with the Poles (you can see how it works here I am not an apologist for the Chinese. They need to be watched closely given their past activities but they are complying with the Antarctic Treaty in Antarctica. Good article though. Thanks


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