Consider the view from Beijing. From the northwest Pacific to the Indian Ocean, China is surrounded by the countries that are currently participating in Australia's big air force exercise in the Top End.
Worse, from Beijing's perspective, Exercise Pitch Black has more participation than ever, with no fewer than 17 countries attending. Japan, South Korea and even Germany have turned up for the first time.
We all know why: China's rising aggression.
The importance of this should not be exaggerated. Exercises are not alliances, and the participants in Pitch Black are not collectively practicing fighting China.
For Southeast Asian participants, the most important reason for attending would be the same as for many times in the past: Pitch Black offers an excellent opportunity to exercise with other, highly regarded air forces, including Australia's.
It's also handy that we have an immense amount of empty sky for pilots to burn holes through.
Still, almost every one of the participating countries is somewhere on the spectrum between concerned by China's aggression and greatly alarmed by it. And there they all are this month, together alongside runways at Darwin and near Katherine and Brisbane, exercising together in such tasks as knocking out and protecting air bases.
How Beijing must hate to see such conspicuous military cooperation by so many countries that it likes to push around individually. It will pick up a message from Pitch Black that resistance to it is growing.
The country sending the strongest signal, without wanting to admit it, is Germany, which has Europe's largest economy and, regrettably, just about the least serious foreign policy. For decades it has been a bludger on the US, Britain and France for its security in Europe - yet now we suddenly see it turning up in the Asia-Pacific.
This is part of the awakening in Europe that this column pointed to immediately after Russia invaded Ukraine. All over the democratic world, Vladimir Putin has sharpened attitudes to authoritarian aggression.
The German air force diplomatically says its deployment of Typhoon fighters, tankers and airlifters to the Asia-Pacific is not directed at China. Yet it also says that it wanted to demonstrate that it could get to this side of the world in 24 hours.
Well, if such a quick deployment capability is not for reacting to some military emergency involving China, what is it for? Rapid-response tourism?
The Royal Air Force and the French Air and Space Force are also at Pitch Black, of course, as they have been before.
Since its disastrous experience in World War II, Japan has been too pacifist to assert itself militarily. China's behaviour is overturning that, however, leading the government in Tokyo to commit to a substantial increase in defence spending.
Japan likes to keep its armed forces close to home, cooperating mainly with the US. But now five Mitsubishi F-2 fighters of the innocuously named Japan Air Self-Defense Force are zooming around the Top End.
South Korea has previously not seen reasons for participating in Pitch Black. In 2022 it has sent eight F-16s.
Then there's the US, which always participates.
A deep problem in resisting China is that most Asian countries are unwilling to take a stand against it, since it is so strong relative to each of them individually and since they must wonder whether the US will remain committed to keeping the western Pacific stable.
So it's helpful that such countries as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines see the US and other far-flung democracies sending in forces to exercise beside them in northern Australia.
The main base for the exercise, RAAF Tindal, near Katherine, is in fact a key facility that the US would use if it had to defend Taiwan from China. Everyone participating knows that.
We hold Pitch Black every two years. But these days it is so useful that it should become annual.
Papua New Guinea Foreign Affairs Minister Justin Tkatchenko wants a closer security relationship with Australia. That's good news.
The two countries have been talking about this for a few years, but Tkatchenko, noting China's push into the Solomons and threats against Taiwan, says we need to go further than has been intended. He doesn't say how far but wants a deal by the end of the year and adds that it might extend to New Zealand and even the US - which makes him sound very serious.
James Batley of the Australian National University's Department of Pacific Affairs notes that a 1987 Joint Declaration of Principles between Australia and PNG already provides our northern neighbour with an implied security guarantee.
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The declaration does not oblige us to defend PNG, but it would be inconceivable for Australia to stand by if PNG were attacked, he says.
Upgrading the agreement to a full defensive alliance, if that's what Port Moresby is thinking of, would be a remarkable step. Like other Pacific countries, PNG likes to keep its head down in international security.
If we do achieve a closer security relationship with PNG, there will be lots of commentary saying that we've headed off Chinese influence there.
And it will be premature. China's attempts at gaining influence, even control, in Pacific countries will not end. Beijing will keep offering money above the table for infrastructure and under the table for bribes.
So we'll have to keep working at countering it. Maybe one helpful measure would be inviting PNG and other Pacific countries to send observers to Pitch Black.