The Australian Minister of Defense denounced Friday, May 13 the trajectory “agressivefrom a Chinese spy ship on the west coast of the country, displaying a tough stance against the opposition ahead of the elections.
Minister Peter Dutton has repeatedly urged Australian voters not to trust the opposition Labor Party on security issues in the May 21 election. Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison is struggling in the polls after a term marked by his criticized handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and repeated natural disasters.
At a press conference in Perth (west) on Friday Peter Dutton revealed that a Chinese surveillance vessel cruised near the west coast of Australia, “around last week“. He added he could not specify when the vessel was spotted, but a statement from the Ministry of Defense shows it was tracked between May 6 and May 13.
The Australian Air Force monitored the vessel, which entered Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone, he said. The area extends beyond Australian territorial waters and the government had previously said that Chinese spy ships could operate there.
“His intentions, of course, are to glean intelligence along the coast, and he has found himself near military and intelligence installations.“said the minister. “I think that’s an aggressive act, especially because he’s come so far south“, he said.
The defense minister provided a map showing the vessel’s trajectory and a video identifying it as the Haiwangxing, an intelligence vessel. Peter Dutton called on voters not to back Labor opposition leader Anthony Albanese: “This is the great risk of this election. Don’t support Anthony Albanese because they (Labour) don’t take defense seriously“, he said.
Last November, a Chinese spy ship was spotted off Darwin (north) in the Exclusive Economic Zone. “They can be in those areas, just like we can go to the South China Sea. So we don’t make a fuss about it“, had then declared Scott Morrison.
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