HMAS Ballarat has sailed into Shanghai at a tough time for a diplomatic mission.An Australian frigate is preparing for joint exercises with the Chinese navy, just days after Foreign Minister Bob Carr received the blowtorch from Beijing over increased Australia-US military ties.
The frigate was greeted at the dock by a group of People's Liberation Army (PLA) officers and the army band.
PLA sailors then boarded the HMAS Ballarat for a tour by their Australian counterparts.
Over the coming days, the HMAS Ballarat will be based in the heart of China's financial mega-city, with a dramatic backdrop of the gleaming new skyscrapers of the Pudong area, across the other side of the Huangpu River.
The warm welcome was all a far cry from the assessment delivered to Mr Carr in Beijing on Monday, when several high-level government figures wondered why Australia was resorting to what was said to be an outdated "Cold War-style" expansion of military links with America.
Senator Carr says concerns were raised over the issue during three high-level meetings with Chinese officials.
"Australia's view, of course, is that the American presence in the Asia-Pacific has helped underpin stability there," he said.
Ballarat's Commander, Jonathan Earley, says the joint military exercise will provide an opportunity to smooth things over with China.
"Today's politics is I guess confusing," he said.
"There are a number of contentious issues around the world at the moment. Certainly visits like this help to try and alleviate some of that by coming out here and working together, co-operating."
The Ballarat is preparing to head out to sea with Chinese frigate An Qing in the coming days.
Commander Earley says they will carry out communications and search and rescue operations which will help prepare both navies for work in regional disasters.
"We've had the tsunami, we've had a number of earthquakes and so forth," he said.
"When those incidents generally happen, militaries are usually the ones that have most technology and the capability in order to mobilise quickly.
"When you have a number of different countries merging on the one area, it's important to understand how each of us operate in order to get the best outcome.