The RAAF monitored an unprecedented and unannounced exercise involving three Chinese warships in international waters to the north of Australia, it has emerged.
The unusual naval exercise late last week is considered to have been a deliberate and provocative move by the Chinese that will send a clear message to the region.
For the first time, the Chinese navy sent warships sailing through the Sunda Strait between the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra.
The ships travelled along the southern edge of Java, close to Christmas Island, and then through the Lombok Strait between Lombok and Bali.
The move is considered to be an unprecedented show of military might by the Chinese, and will have a significant impact on security and strategic policy settings for Australia and our regional neighbours, particularly Indonesia and India.
Analysts believe that by sending ships through the region in such a fashion, Beijing is making it clear that it now considers the Indian Ocean a strategic priority.
They believe it signals that China will deploy its military to protect its interests in the region if needed. ABC