Australian officials and politicians have been careful not to publicly criticise China for sending the ship to observe Talisman Sabre from international waters. (ABC News)
The watchers were being watched — closely.
- Defence Force last week spotted the People’s Liberation Army intelligence ship in international waters
- “We are very conscious of their behaviour,” Marise Payne says
- Chinese patrols likely to be repeated in the future, Chinese newspaper says
Defence Minister Marise Payne said Australia was monitoring a Chinese spy ship “very carefully” as the vessel observed military exercises between Australia and the United States earlier this month.
The ABC revealed last week the Defence Force spotted the People’s Liberation Army intelligence ship in international waters near the Talisman Sabre war games in Queensland.
Senior military officials privately called the move “provocative”, although the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has been quick to play down the encounter, stressing China had the right to sail close to Australia while remaining in international waters.
Senator Payne echoed Ms Bishop’s comments, but also pointedly observed Australia had been keeping a close eye on the high-tech Chinese vessel.
“They were not particularly doing anything wrong but we are very conscious of their behaviour and conscious of the activities they have underway,” Senator Payne said.