BEIJING: Beijing has defended its dispatch of a spy ship to in–ternational waters off Hawaii, near where Chinese vessels are taking part in a US-led naval exercise for the first time, reports said on Monday.
The defense ministry said the vessel’s activities are in line with international law, reported the Global Times, which is close to the ruling Communist party.
Reports in the US quoted the US Navy saying that a Chinese surveillance vessel had been found operating near the location of the Rim of the Pacific (Rimpac) naval exer–cises, viewed by analysts as one step toward potentially re–pairing ties at a time of heightened US-China tensions.
Four ships of the People’s Liberation Army Navy with an estimated 1,100 sailors on board—a missile destro- yer, missile frigate, supply ship and hospital ship—are officially taking part in the Rimpac exercises, which began last month.
But China and the US have found themselves increasingly at odds as Beijing seeks to assert its claim to disputed territory in the East and South China Seas, and as Washington seeks to shore up its influence in the region.
China’s dispatch of the surveillance ship is a reminder that relations remain fraught between the Asian giant and western superpower.
“The People’s Liberation Army naval ships’ operation in waters outside the territorial seas of other countries is in line with international law and international practice,” the Chinese defense ministry statement said.