This post was edited by andr0078 at 2011-11-27 01:01
Australian soldiers will soon be landing in central China for joint exercises with the People's Liberation Army, demonstrating that relations with Australia's dominant trading partner remain on track.
The military emergency rescue exercises are modest in scale but highly significant in timing, coming just a fortnight after Australia greatly increased military co-operation with the US by agreeing to host 2500 Marines near Darwin.
The US-Australia collaboration was framed as part of President Barack Obama's move to reassert the US presence in Asia as a hedge against Chinese muscle-flexing.
Several Chinese military pundits suggested the move was designed to ''contain'' China, with one retired officer reminding the Herald that Chinese ballistic missiles could comfortably reach Darwin.
But next week's China-Australia exercises, confirmed late yesterday, show Chinese military leaders have chosen not to retaliate by cutting or downgrading military relations.
Fifteen members of an Australian Defence Force emergency rescue team, based in Bungendore, will line up for a day of disaster relief planning on Monday, followed by field exercises on Tuesday.
The Australian contingent will include a doctor and three medical assistants.
They will join about 20 members of the PLA's Chengdu Military Region headquarters for rescue drills at a mock earthquake disaster zone at the Comprehensive Emergency Response Training Base at Chongyi.
The exercise - set in a fictitious third country - will involve civilians being ''rescued'' from earthquake rubble and buildings tilted at 45 degree angles.
The area, an hour's drive north of Chengdu, is close to the epicentre of an earthquake which killed tens of thousands of people in 2008.
Chinese state-run media provided saturation coverage of the PLA leading rescue efforts although closer examination has called the success of some of those efforts into question.