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South China Sea: Australia closely monitoring Chinese surveillance ship
Tensions among nations over the South China Sea have escalated in recent months as countries are on alert to deter any aggression from China. This time, Australia is closely monitoring a Chinese surveillance ship as it is seen passing through waters close by.
The Australian military is keeping a close watch over the Tianwangxing, the surveillance ship of the People’s Liberation Army of China when it was seen moving towards the waters of Queensland. The ship is believed to be observing the joint military drills being conducted by Australian and US personnel. Australian Senator Eric Abetz who is the chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade committee compared Beijing’s behavior to its attitude when ships are seen passing through the South China Sea.
Abetz acknowledged that the vessel was adhering to the international rule despite being in Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone. However, the Australian lawmaker called out Beijing’s hypocrisy in practicing freedom of navigation when Chinese vessels are transiting through waters within the control of other countries.
“Australia is carefully monitoring the situation and the timing of the intelligence ship visiting our waters,” said Abetz. “One may well suspect it is a deliberate act ahead of the Talisman Sabre war games,”
“It is hypocritical for China to practice freedom of navigation so close to our shores while at the same time voicing loud protestations against other nations that conduct the same freedom of navigation exercises through the South China Sea. If Australia or another country were to transit through China’s Exclusive Economic Zone, there would be predictable belligerent claims from the CCP dictatorship about ‘interference in China’s internal affairs”
While China has insisted on claiming sovereignty over the South China Sea despite the international ruling against the communist nation’s claims, other countries like the US have strongly opposed China’s assertions of control over the waters. At last week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, US President Joe Biden warned Chinese President Xi Jinping of his commitment to having a “free and open Indo-Pacific” along with the importance of multilateral cooperation.
This warning also follows another warning to China given by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the fifth anniversary of the tribunal ruling. Blinken reiterated that all nations have an enduring interest in the “freedom of the seas.”