Australia says Chinese warship 'collect information' on US-Ausralia drills
Story Code : 803944
Chief of joint operations at the Australian Defense Force, Greg Bilton, said on Monday that the Auxiliary General Intelligence (AGI) vessel was probably headed to Australia’s northeast coast to get a first-hand look at the war game.
“We’re tracking it,” Bilton said. “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 in regards to that."
"It's a vessel that collects information, so it's not a great threat but we'll take appropriate action,” he said, adding that “it is international waters; they have the right to sail there."
At least 25,000 Australian and US military forces on board warships equipped with strike jets will be taking part in bi-annual Talisman Sabre war games over the next month.
The vessel appeared in the region just weeks after three Chinese warships docked in Sydney harbor to the surprise of many, including NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
The US and Australia have been building up their military presence across the western Pacific to counter China’s influence in the region.
This comes amid the growth of China’s military power throughout the region and across the world, which has frustrated the United States.
Reports said last month that Australia was working on a secret plan to construct a new deep-water port to accommodate large amphibious warships such as Australia's Landing Helicopter Docks, and American vessels such as the USS Wasp.
Experts said the new port would be ideally suited for more than 2,000 US Marines and their equipment during regular rotations through the region.
As part of that plan, the two countries recently announced plans to build a joint military base on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island, northeast of Australia.