Chinese spy ship monitors Australia in war-fighting drill with US

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Beijing’s spy ship, Tianwangxing, is being tracked by the Australian military as it makes its way towards Queensland waters. It is believed the ship – whose name translates as ‘Uranus’ – will be monitoring the joint military exercises between Canberra and Washington, which will begin this week.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton confirmed the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is closely monitoring the Chinese military ship ahead of the Talisman Sabre 2021 war games.

Mr Dutton told ABC: “We are aware that the People’s Liberation Army general intelligence ship, Tianwangxing, is approaching Australia’s east coast via the Torres Strait.

“We have been monitoring its approach to Australia for several days as part of Australia’s broader surveillance effort.”

The Tianwangxing is equipped with advanced communications systems including several domes that conceal dish antennas.

A military official said the ship was intentionally keeping a low profile.

The unnamed source said: “The ship is in full EMCON (emission control) at the moment, only broadcasting signals it absolutely has to.

“[It is only] responding to calls and hails by insisting that it is operating in accordance with international maritime law.”

It is believed the vessel will remain in Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone in the Coral Sea while it monitors this year’s games.

The Talisman Sabre exercise is the largest bilateral combined training activity between the ADF and the US military.

Military personnel from Japan, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand and the UK are also included in the games.

This is not the first time the Chinese warship was spotted in Australian waters.

Back in 2019, the same vessel was tracked by the ADF while en route to monitor the biennial war games.

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Tensions between Australia and China have reached boiling point over recent months.

Back in May, Chinese state media issued a terrifying warning that Australia will be the “first hit” in any potential conflict over Taiwan if Canberra continues to “meddle” in Beijing affairs.

An article in the Global Times, a Chinese-state media platform, said: “The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) doesn’t need to make pointed responses to the joint drill since it’s insignificant militarily.

“Australia’s military is too weak to be a worthy opponent of China, and if it dares to interfere in a military conflict for example in the Taiwan Straits, its forces will be among the first to be hit.

“Australia must not think it can hide from China if it provokes.

“Australia is within range of China’s conventional warhead-equipped DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile.”

Tensions between Australia and its biggest trading partner, China, drastically deteriorated last year when Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

The communist nation retaliated and imposed arbitrary bans and tariffs on billions of Australian goods.

In April, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin accused Canberra of “meddling” in Beijing’s internal affairs and argued there was “no room for any form of Taiwan independence”.

Fears have erupted over recent months that under Chinese President Xi Jinping, Beijing will use military force to reunify Taiwan with mainland China.

Pressure is mounting on ‘Quad’ members – including Australia, Japan, India and the US – to counter against China’s dominance over Taiwan.

Taiwan has faced a longstanding conflict with mainland China since a separate government was established on the island following the Chinese Civil War in 1949.

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