Australia says Chinese spy ship did not breach law of the sea

Australia says Chinese spy ship did not breach law of the sea
# 14 May 2022 08:10 (UTC +04:00)

A Chinese intelligence ship tracked off Australia's west coast within 50 nautical miles of a sensitive defence facility did not breach international maritime laws, Australia said on Saturday, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Australia tracked the spy ship over the past week as it sailed past the Harold E Holt naval communications station at Exmouth, in Western Australia, which is used by Australian, U.S. and allied submarines.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday the Chinese navy vessel was not in Australian territorial waters but its presence was "concerning", amid an election campaign where China's behaviour in the region has been centre stage.

The question of a national security threat posed by China, including its expanding influence in the Pacific, has been a major theme in the campaign for the May 21 general election.

Asked on Saturday about whether the vessel's conduct was a "red line", Morrison said freedom of navigation was permitted around the world and the ship had not broken maritime laws.

"International law of the sea has not been breached," he told reporters on the campaign trail in Melbourne. But he said the issue highlighted challenges Australia faced from China "seeking to impose its will across the region".

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