China’s intelligence gathering ship being spotted close to the venue of an Australian naval exercise is part of its rights of freedom of navigation, Beijing has claimed.
"China's navy vessels and aircraft have freedom of navigation and overflight in non-sovereign international maritime regions just like any other country," an article in state-controlled Global Times newspaper said quoting Chinese defense ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said on Monday.
He made the remarks in response to questions on the Chinese navy's recent appearances and operations in waters near the US, the UK and Australia at a press conference about the development of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) on Monday in Beijing.
China's current military operations around the globe, such as joint naval drills with Russia in the Baltic Sea and a PLA navy's intelligence vessel's voyage close to the northeast coast of Australia, have drawn global attention, an article in Beijing-controlled Global Times said.
In the recent past, US and allied ships have sailed close to South China Sea islands which China claims is part of its territory, citing ‘freedom of navigation’ rights. By sending an intelligence ship close to an area where a close US ally, Australia was conducting a naval exercise, China seems to be sending a ‘don’t mess with me’ message.