China spy ship ‘shadows’ Indian, US, Japanese naval drill: 5 things to know

  • Agencies, Tokyo
  • Updated: Jun 15, 2016 19:21 IST
In this file photo, Chinese navy vessels take part in a drill in the waters off Zhoushan. (AP File Photo)

A Chinese navy reconnaissance ship entered Japanese territorial waters on Wednesday while tailing two Indian naval ships participating in the trilateral Malabar naval exercise with the US and Japan, a Japanese official has said.

The Chinese ship shadowed the US aircraft carrier John C Stennis in the Western Pacific, the carrier’s commander said, as it joined warships from India and Japan for drills close to waters Beijing considers its backyard.

Here are five things you need to know about the issue:

1) Tokyo said on Wednesday a separate Chinese navy observation ship entered its territorial waters south of its southern Kyushu island. “There is a Chinese vessel about seven to 10 miles away,” Captain Gregory C Huffman, commander of the Stennis, told reporters aboard the carrier after it recovered its F-18 jet fighters taking part in the exercise. The Chinese ship had followed the US vessel from the South China Sea, he added.

2) In Beijing, Chinese officials defended the naval vessel’s entry into the waters, saying the passage was in line with the principle of freedom of navigation and international rules. Under international law, ships of all countries, including military ones, are entitled to the right of “innocent passage” through territorial waters as long as it would not undermine others’ security.

3) The 100,000-ton Stennis joined nine other naval ships including a Japanese helicopter carrier and Indian frigates in seas off the Okinawan island chain. Sub-hunting patrol planes launched from bases in Japan are also participating in the joint annual exercise dubbed Malabar.

4) The show of US naval power comes as Japan and the United States worry China is extending its influence into the Western Pacific with submarines and surface vessels as it pushes territorial claims in the neighbouring South China Sea, expanding and building on islands.

5) Japan has voiced its “concerns” over the intrusion which comes less than a week after another Chinese naval vessel sailed near the Senkaku islands in the East China Sea.

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