Chinese SPY SHIP spends three weeks in secretive mission off the coast of Australia - passing critical military bases after entering exclusive economic zone near Darwin
A Chinese spy ship was spotted lurking off the Australian coast for three weeks and passing several major military bases.
The Dongdiao-class spy ship entered the 200km exclusive economic zone off the coast of Darwin in August.
The vessel ventured south and traveled along the east coast before passing 'one of Australia's prime military training areas' in Shoalwater Bay, Queensland.
It then passed several training areas used by the Royal Australian Airforce before travelling off the coast to Sydney.
The ship then travelled across the Tasman and to New Zealand in September.
Defence sources claim they were surprised by the arrival of the vessel, Daily Telegraph reported.
China has frequently sent surveillance ships to Australia and monitored the Talisman Sabre military exercises with the United States in 2017, 2019 and July 2021.
Three Chinese warships also sailed into Sydney Harbour unannounced on the eve of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 2019.
A Defence source described the most recent visit as unusual as there were no military exercises taking place.
Foreign vessels are allowed to travel in the exclusive economic zone but they must not come within 12 nautical miles of the coast.
The Dongdiao-class spy ship was shadowed by Australian naval boat HMAS Supply.
A Defence spokesperson said they vessel had been closely monitored.
'Australia monitors all vessels operating in our maritime (area),' the spokesperson said.
'Australia supports and respects the rights of all states to exercise lawful freedom of navigation … in international waters, just as we expect them to respect our right to do so.'
The sighting of the ship comes as tensions continue to rise between Australia and China.
China's acting ambassador to Australia Wang Xining called Australia the 'naughty guy' in an interview with Guardian Australia about the AUKUS pact with the United States and United Kingdom.
He accused Australia of being a 'sabre wielder' and warned it against 'doing anything that's destructive to our relationship'.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton labelled the comments as 'so silly it's funny'.
Mr Dutton said the acting ambassador was reading off a Communist Party script.
'We don't see (this) from any other ambassador here in Australia. It's quite remarkable,' the minister told the Nine Network on Friday.
'This provocative sort of comical statements - really, it's so silly it's funny.
'Most Australians see through the non-productive nature of the comments and they should be dismissed in that vein.'