“They have every right to be there under international maritime law, just as we have every right to be in the South China Sea,” Morrison said today during a visit to South Australia.
Mr. Morrison added that there was a “very serious situation” in the Pacific region involving China.
“I think the presence of the Chinese Navy, of which we were aware, and they were watching us closely and we were watching them closely. The importance of that is to highlight to Australians that there is a very serious situation.” in the Indo-Pacific.
“I’ve been saying that for a long time. These things are true. Australia had to be able to stand up, and that requires great strength.”
Defense Minister Peter Dutton previously confirmed that the ship spent three weeks off the Australian coast this year.
Dutton told Today that the surveillance ship remained out of Australian waters and did not violate any laws.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy ship sailed from Darwin’s waters and headed south to Sydney.
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Dutton said his crew was likely monitoring signals and other communications for an extended period.
“They will be involved in intelligence gathering, signal gathering. They will look to examine different attributes and have that general presence.”
Dutton said the incident earlier this year was a reminder of China’s military strengthening.
“China has 355 ships and submarines in its fleet, which will number 460 in the next nine years or so. It is a worrying time.
“That is why Australia has to be strong and stand up for our values. I think it is right for people to have a clear idea of what is happening.”
In July, a Chinese surveillance ship stationed off Queensland waters monitored Australian-organized military exercises.