Three Chinese warships sailed out of Sydney on Friday after an unannounced visit that came amid a tussle for influence between Australia and China in the Pacific.

The show-of-force call by a frigate, supply ship and amphibious warfare vessel was planned but never announced by Canberra.

Ties between Australia and China hit a low last year when Canberra passed laws aimed at “thwarting Chinese influence in domestic affairs” and also over China’s assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea, Reuters said.

Australia has offered diplomatic support to US “freedom of navigation” voyages through the South China Sea.

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