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Chinese Navy to join 26 nations in military exercises off Australia’s north coast

The Chinese Navy will join 26 other nations in military exercises off Australia’s north coast this month, but these will not include live-fire drills, Australia’s defense minister said on Wednesday. The move comes at a time of strained ties between the two nations. The naval exercises are being hosted by Australia and will also include its major ally, the US, which expelled China in May from its military training around Hawaii, Reuters reported. Ties between Australia and China hit a new low after Canberra passed a raft of laws aimed at thwarting Chinese influence in domestic affairs, while tensions were also frayed over China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea. Australia has offered diplomatic support to the US “freedom of navigation” voyages through the South China Sea. However, Australia honored an invitation to the maneuvers that it issued China last September.