(Sydney) Australia’s defense minister on Friday denounced the “aggressive” course of a Chinese spy ship on the country’s west coast, showing a firm stand against opposition in the run-up to the elections.
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Minister Peter Dutton has repeatedly urged Australian voters not to trust the opposition Labor Party over security issues in the May 21 election.
Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison is struggling in the polls after a period marked by criticism of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and frequent natural disasters.
At a press conference in Perth on Friday, Mr Dutton revealed that a Chinese monitoring ship had sailed near the west coast of Australia “in the past week”.
He added that he could not say when the ship was spotted, but a statement from the Ministry of Defense shows that it was tracked between May 6 and 13.
He said the Australian Air Force was monitoring the ship, which had entered Australia’s exclusive economic zone. The area extends beyond Australian territorial waters and the government had previously said Chinese spy ships could operate there.
“His intentions, of course, are to gather intelligence along the coast and find himself near military and intelligence facilities,” the minister said.
“I think it was an aggressive act, especially because it came so far south,” he said.
The Secretary of Defense provided a map showing the course of the ship and a video identifying it as HaiungxingIntelligence building.
Mr Dutton called on voters not to support opposition Labor leader Anthony Albanese: “This is the great danger of this election. Don’t support Mr Albanese because they (Labour) do not take defense seriously.
Last November, a Chinese spy ship was spotted off Darwin (North) in the exclusive economic zone.
They could be in those areas, just like we go to the South China Sea. Scott Morrison said at the time.
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