By Michael Shoebridge*
Canberra, we have a problem. It’s the public diplomacy around Australia’s relationship with the Chinese state—in particular, the People’s Liberation Army and the civilian and militia elements that operate with it in the South China Sea.
The Royal Australian Navy has just finished its largest task force deployment in recent years, called Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019. Four RAN ships visited 13 ports in seven countries and covered approximately 16,000 nautical miles. The naval flotilla, which embarked air force and army personnel, together with Seahawk, MRH-90 troop transport and Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters, travelled from Sri Lanka right through Southeast Asia and into the South China Sea.