Chinese WARSHIP is spying on Australia: Peter Dutton claims vessel lurking off the coast


Defence Minister Peter Dutton has warned a hi-tech Chinese spy ship is lurking off the coast of Western Australia and branded it an ‘act of aggression’.

Mr Dutton held a press conference on Friday afternoon raising the alarm about the Type 815 vessel which has been tracking ‘close’ to the coast for the last week or so. 

The Dongdiao Class Auxiliary Intelligence ship was sighted at 0600 hrs this morning, 250 nautical miles north-west of Broome and tracking north-east at 12 knots.

Defence chiefs are keeping tabs on the ship’s movements – which has crossed into Australia’s exclusive economic zone – from the air and sea, according to sources. 

‘It’s strange timing and it’s without precedent a vessel would be so far south,’ Mr Dutton said. ‘It is an aggressive act. Clearly, its intention is to gather intelligence.’

The vessel’s appearance near the naval communications base supporting US and allied submarines in the Indian Ocean comes eight days before the federal election.

The Chinese spy ship Intelligence Collection Vessel, Haiwangxing, (pictured) which was caught operating off the coast of Western Australia at 6am on Friday

Defence Minister Peter Dutton (pictured right with Scott Morrison) has warned a Chinese warship with spy capabilities is lurking off the coast of Western Australia

Defence Minister Peter Dutton (pictured right with Scott Morrison) has warned a Chinese warship with spy capabilities is lurking off the coast of Western Australia 

Mr Dutton added: ‘It’s obviously very strange that it’s come this far south, and it’s hugging the coastline as it goes north towards Darwin. 

‘Its intention will be to collect as much electronic intelligence as it can – and that’s just very unusual. It does cause us concern.

‘We haven’t seen a ship from the People’s Liberation Army Navy come this far south.’ 

He believed the warship may be gathering vital data for underwater submarine routes in the area.

Defence chiefs released a map tracking the Chinese spy ship's movements

Defence chiefs released a map tracking the Chinese spy ship’s movements

‘There’s certainly the desire for them to to look hydrographically, which is why they’ve sent vessels from time to time, he said.

‘So, to look at routes for submarines, to look at coastline, facilities and and importantly, the Harold E Holt (naval communications) facility is in that area.’

The Harold E Holt Naval Communication Station near Exmouth, WA, is a top secret joint US/Australian Navy base.

An intelligence source confirmed Chinese surveillance vessels have been tracking ships going in and out of the facility for years and have also been actively mapping the ocean floor topography in the area.

The Chinese spy ship was sighted 250 nautical miles north-west of Broome and tracking north-east towards Darwin at 12 knots (stock image pictured)

The Chinese spy ship was sighted 250 nautical miles north-west of Broome and tracking north-east towards Darwin at 12 knots (stock image pictured)

Mr Dutton said China had ripped up the diplomatic rule book by arriving unannounced off the coast in this fashion.

‘There is essentially an international protocol, which would normally include that contact to the Australian authorities which hasn’t happened,’ he said.

 The defence minister insisted that publicly releasing the sensitive military intelligence so close to election day was not without precedent. 

In February, the government revealed details of a flashpoint when Chinese military vessels turned blinding lasers on Australian surveillance aircraft in the Arafura Sea, north of Australia. 

Mr Dutton added: ‘I think people understand the difficulty that’s the reality of the Indo-Pacific at the moment.

‘The acts of aggression from the Chinese leadership and from the Chinese government – I think Australians deserve to know what what is taking place.

‘We don’t know whether [the spy ship] continues to traverse across the north of our country, or whether it goes back up further in a more northerly direction than what it currently is.

‘But that’s something that we’ll monitor at the moment and I think it’s it’s best that we’re able to release that detail.

‘It’s best to be open and honest with the Australian public and this is not a problem of Australia’s making.’

He warned of the situation Japan was now facing with ‘hundreds’ of Chinese ‘militia’ vessels in the East China Sea which ‘are bumping up against the Japanese coast guard vessels on a daily basis’.

He added: ‘That’s not an act of aggression from Japan. It’s not Japan that’s changed.’

Mr Dutton said India had also faced confrontations with their Chinese neighbour too.

Defence minister Peter Dutton warned of the collaboration between Chinese President Xi Jinping (pictured) and Russia's Vladimir Putin

Defence minister Peter Dutton warned of the collaboration between Chinese President Xi Jinping (pictured) and Russia’s Vladimir Putin

‘There have been Indian troops killed at the hands of Chinese troops over the course  of the last three years,’ he said.

‘It’s right that would speak out against that activity. Where we see acts of aggression in our own region, we’re right to speak out about it. 

‘We’re standing up for our values. We’re not going to compromise on our democracy. 

‘I want to normalise the relationship with China – like anyone, I don’t want to see them continue down the path of aggression.’

But he warned: ‘I just don’t think people have learned any of the lessons of history.

‘You see this collaboration now between Russia and China between President Xi and President Putin. 

‘That’s the circumstances in which we’re living and when you look at what’s happening in Europe at the moment, that causes us great concern.’

A defence department statement added: ‘Australia respects the rights of all states to exercise freedom of navigation and overflight in international waters and airspace, just as we expect others to respect our right to do the same.’ 

More to follow 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk