Australia, Canberra (AP) —Australia’s Defense Minister said Friday that a Chinese warship capable of espionage was hugging the country’s west coastline in a manner equivalent to an “aggressive act.”
Minister Peter Dutton said the ship was witnessed about 250 nautical miles north of Bloom in Western Australia on Friday morning and had been tracked along the coastline for the past week.
“Of course, the intention is to collect information along the coastline, right next to military and intelligence facilities on Australia’s west coast.”
He said Chinese warships have never been adventurous to the south, and authorities are carefully monitoring them with planes and surveillance techniques. He said he wanted to be frank and honest with the Australians about the situation.
“I think it’s an offensive act, especially because it’s far south,” Dutton said.
When asked about ship sightings, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said, “China is always in compliance with international law and practice,” although there is no information on a particular situation.
“Relevant Australian politicians should not look at the relevant situation objectively and calmly and make sensational statements,” Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing.
Tensions between China and Australia have recently increased since China signed a security agreement with the Solomon Islands.
Australians go to vote within 8 days to vote in the general election. Mr Dutton said the timing of his announcement had nothing to do with the campaign.
The Australian Defense Force has identified this ship as an East-class auxiliary intelligence ship named Haiwangxing.
In a statement, the Defense Forces said, “Australia respects freedom of navigation and the right of all states to exercise airspace in the high seas and airspace. We hope that others will respect the right to do the same. It’s the same as doing it. ” “Defense continues to monitor ship operations with our maritime approach.”