Experts say 'Paper Tiger’ is the largest Australia-US joint military exercise ever

A cannon is fired during a joint military exercise at a firing range in northern Australia as part of Exercise Talisman Sabre, the largest joint training exercise between Australia and the United States, on July 22, 2023 in Shoalwater Bay, Australia. Photo: AFP

The Australia-US joint military exercise involving 13 countries is considered a „paper tiger” by Chinese experts. While impressive on paper, the exercise may not persuade all participants to serve the US cause, experts said.

The two-week military exercise, dubbed Talisman Saber 2023, officially began on Friday. More than 30,000 soldiers from 13 countries attended, making it the largest since 2005, according to media reports. Reuters described it as „a show of strength and solidarity at a time when China has emerged as an increasingly assertive power in the Indo-Pacific”.

During the opening ceremony in Sydney, US Navy Secretary Carlos del Toro said, “The most important message for China to take from this exercise, and any joint activity with our allies and partners, is that we are very much bound together by the core values ​​of many countries.

Chen Hong, executive director of East China Normal University’s Center for Asia Pacific Studies, told the Global Times on Saturday that the US intent to prepare for future military adventures in countries such as Australia and other allies in China’s Indo-Pacific military encirclement is evident through „unprecedented” military exercises.

Sen criticized the US for continuing to escalate regional tensions and insecurity.

The military exercise comes as US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is scheduled to visit Papua New Guinea and Australia next week, with US Secretary of State Blinken planning to attend the Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) and observe the military exercises.

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However, Chen noted that the military spending, labeled by the West as „the largest in the history of the 18-year exercise”, was a „paper tiger” intended to send a clear message to China.

US officials often boast about the „core values” shared by their allies and partners. However, Chinese military expert Song Zhongping told the Global Times that the U.S. is trying to coerce these countries in the name of „protecting their security and democratic values” and hijacking them by escalating threats that include China, Russia and North Korea.

By playing word games, the US only aims to assert its own global hegemony and the participating countries also have their own petty calculations, Chang noted.

While interesting on paper, the exercise cannot persuade all participants to serve the US cause, and even Australia has some reluctance, not to mention others, the two experts noted.

Media reports said it was the first time Germany had participated in the exercise, sending 210 paratroopers and marines. Chinese experts say Germany’s diplomatic independence has been undermined since Merkel left office, but they question whether Germany will actually take more steps to support US military adventurism.

As for Australia, Chen, located in the safe and peaceful South Pacific region, cannot challenge Australia in terms of security, but unfortunately, it has been forced into a blind alley by the manipulation of the United States and has become a pawn in America’s chess game. Under the AUKUS deal Australia has become more aggressive militarily by equipping nuclear-powered submarines and investing heavily in the development of military equipment, the expert noted.

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Chen reminded Australia to maintain its strategic independence to protect its national interests. Chen warned that excessive military adventurism would make Australia more insecure and hinder its own development.

Japan’s self-defense force is scheduled to conduct a live-fire demonstration of its Type 12 surface-to-ship missile (SSM) at a weapons range in Jervis Bay, south of Sydney, on Friday, according to the ABC.

South Korea brought two warships and self-propelled howitzers and a Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) called the Chunmoo to the exercise. It will showcase its rocket technology during the Talisman Sabre, reports ABC.

Song told the Global Times that both Japan and South Korea have their own objectives in promoting their military industries by participating in the Talisman Sabre. Testing equipment in Australia is taken as a way to demonstrate that their equipment is well adapted to different climates and can be used around the world, which will boost their arms exports.

Chinese experts also criticized the Western uproar surrounding the labeling of a Chinese ship off the coast of Australia as a spy ship.

Condemning commentators from the US and Australia who have described China’s actions of sending ships into territorial waters as „aggression”, Chen said such claims are baseless and baseless, adding that the US and Australia should respect other countries’ right of navigation and passage in international seas and airspace.

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