Tuesday, 28 May, 2024

Australia: Chinese spy ship hugging west coast amounts to ‘aggressive act’



The ship “has been in close proximity to military and intelligence installations on the west coast of Australia”, said the country’s defence minister.

Chinese navy vessels have been tracked off Australia's north and eastern coasts several times in recent years.
Chinese navy vessels have been tracked off Australia’s north and eastern coasts several times in recent years. (AP)

Australia has tracked a Chinese intelligence ship off its West coast, Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton has said, in what he called an "act of aggression" by Beijing.

Australia had tracked the spy ship over the past week as itsailed past the Harold E Holt naval communications station atExmouth, which is used by Australian, US and alliedsubmarines, Dutton said on Friday.

"I think it is an act of aggression. I think particularlybecause it has come so far south," Dutton said at a newsconference.

"It has been in close proximity to military and intelligenceinstallations on the west coast of Australia."

Australia goes to a national election on May 21 andallegations of the national security threat posed by China havebeen a major campaign theme.

Dutton questioned the "strange timing" of the vessel's presence given the election campaign.

READ MORE:Early voting under way in Australia with opposition ahead in polls

'Crossing into Australia's economic zone'

Chinese navy vessels have been tracked off Australia's northand eastern coasts several times in recent years.

In February, Beijing and Canberra blamed each other for anincident where an Australian maritime patrol aircraft detected alaser directed at it from a People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN)vessel.

Australia released photographs of two Chinese vesselsinvolved in that incident sailing close to its north coast.

Australia's defence department said in a statement theDongdiao Class Auxiliary Intelligence ship named Haiwangxingtravelled down the west coast, crossing into Australia'sEconomic Exclusion Zone on May 6.

The ship came within 50 nauticalmiles of the communications station on May 11.

Dutton said Australia had made a practice of making thepublic aware of the presence of Chinese navy ships.

READ MORE:Why has the China-Solomon Islands defence deal irked the West?

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