Australia: Chinese 'spy' vessel moves towards coastline
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Australia is currently engaged in joint military exercises with the US military, ahead of a major missile launch on Sunday. However, the Australia Defence Force (ADF) has warned that a second Chinese spy ship is approaching Australia’s coast ahead of the joint exercises, known as Exercise Talisman Sabre. Defence officials are wary, claiming it is “unusual” that two Chinese high-tech surveillance ships monitor the country.
In fact, it marks the first time two intelligence ships have been deployed by Beijing.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has admitted he is very wary of the vessels which appear to be watching the Talisman Sabre 2021 war games off the coast of Queensland.
According to released photographs, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) general intelligence ship, the Haiwangxing, is approaching Australia’s east coast via the Solomon Sea.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton said the ADF had been monitoring the ship’s approach as part of a broader surveillance effort.
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He said: “Defence will continue to monitor the presence of these vessels.”
One military official said the Haiwanxing had been “on our radar for some time”.
As part of the fortnight-long joint exercises, the US has already fired a Patriot missile for the first time on Australian soil.
The missile test saw a Patriot battery down a pair of drone aircraft on Friday.
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On Sunday, the US military is expected to carry out a live-fire demonstration of its High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), a technology that the ADF could soon bid for.
The joint exercises between Australia and the US will also feature forces from Japan, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand and the UK.
More than 17,000 troops are expected to be involved during the exercises.
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This comes as a recent poll suggested that more than four in 10 Australians are worried China may attack Australia.
When the 603 people polled in Australia by the Australia Institute were asked whether they thought China would launch an armed attack on Australia, 6 percent said soon and 36 percent said some time – totalling 42 percent.
Earlier today, China responded to new US sanctions on Chinese officials following its crackdown in Hong Kong.
Beijing vowed to deal a “head-on blow” to the United States and slammed Washington DC for its “unprovoked smearing”.
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