SYDNEY, July 8 2019 : Australian defence officials said today they were tracking a Chinese surveillance ship that is expected to position itself just outside of its territorial waters to monitor military exercises between Australia and the United States.
Around 25,000 Australian and U.S. military personnel on board battleships equipped with strike jets will over the next month participate in bi-annual Talisman Sabre war games.
Lieutenant General Greg Bilton, chief of joint operations at the Australian Defence Force, said the Chinese surveillance vessel was probably headed to Australia’s northeast coast to get a first-hand look at the military exercises.
“We’re tracking it. We don’t know yet its destination but we are assuming that it will come down to the east coast of Queensland and we will take appropriate measures,” Bilton told reporters in Brisbane, the state capital of Queensland.
China claims most of the resource-rich South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims on the waterway.
Australia and China are also competing for influence in the South Pacific, a sparsely populated region that control vast swathes of resource rich oceans.
China’s navy has grown dramatically over the past two decades as Beijing seeks to extend its power of influence and it now has one of the mightiest navies in the world. – Reuters