A Chinese surveillance ship is being tracked heading towards Queensland waters ahead of upcoming Australian-hosted military exercises.
The vessel is the high-tech general intelligence (AGI) ship Tianwangxing and is scheduled to arrive on Friday.
It is then expected to surveil the Talisman Sabre 2021 military exercises involving Australia, the US and other international forces which officially start today.
The Department of Defence told nine.com.au that it was monitoring the Chinese ship.
“Defence is aware that the People’s Liberation Army (Navy) General Intelligence Ship Tianwangxing is approaching Australia’s east coast via the Torres Strait,” a Defence spokesman said.
“Australia monitors all vessels operating in our maritime approaches.
“Australia supports and respects the rights of all states to exercise lawful freedom of navigation and overflight in international waters and airspace, just as we expect others to respect our right to do the same.”
Defence Minister Peter Dutton said the Australian Defence Force (ADF) had been tracking the Chinese naval vessel over recent days.
“We are aware that the People’s Liberation Army (Navy) general intelligence ship Tianwangxing is approaching Australia’s east coast via the Torres Strait,” Mr Dutton said.
“We have been monitoring its approach to Australia for several days as part of Australia’s broader surveillance effort.”
Mr Dutton said he did not expect the presence of the Chinese naval ship to impede the Talisman Sabre exercises.
“We fully expected a ship of this class to arrive in our region during the exercise and have planned for its presence, as we do for every iteration,” he said.
According to the US Navy, the Tianwangxing is equipped with advanced surveillance equipment that can intercept communication signals.
Chinese naval vessels have previously monitored the biennial Talisman Sabre exercises.
The military drills involve armed forces from the US, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, the UK and Canada.
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