Australia’s defense minister said on Friday that a Chinese warship with espionage capabilities had hugged the country’s west coast in an “aggressive act”.
Minister Peter Dutton said the ship was sighted en route north about 250 nautical miles from Broome in Western Australia on Friday morning and had been tracked along the coast for the past week.
“Their intent, of course, is to gather intelligence right along the coast,” Dutton said. “It was in close proximity to military and intelligence installations on the west coast of Australia.”
He said it was unprecedented for a Chinese warship to venture that far south and authorities were closely monitoring the ship with aircraft and surveillance techniques. He said he wanted to be open and honest with Australians about the situation.
“I think it’s an aggressive act, and I think especially because it’s come so far south,” Dutton said.
Tensions between China and Australia have recently escalated after China signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands.
Australians will go to the polls in eight days to vote in a general election. Dutton said the timing of his announcement had nothing to do with the campaign.
Australia’s Defense Forces identified the ship as a Dongdiao-class auxiliary intelligence ship named Haiwangxing.
“Australia respects the right of all States to exercise freedom of navigation and overflight in international waters and airspace, just as we expect others to respect our right to do the same,” the Defense Force said in a statement. “Defense will continue to monitor ship operations on our sea approaches.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/western-australia-ap-peter-dutton-canberra-chinese-b2078121.html Australia says a Chinese spy ship has hugged the west coast