After being disinvited from this 2018’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercises, China sent an intelligence vessel to spy on the U.S.-led exercises, Pacific Fleet confirmed to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) auxiliary general intelligence ship has been active off the coast of Hawaii, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser first reported.
“The U.S. Pacific Fleet has been monitoring a Chinese navy surveillance ship in the vicinity of Hawaii,” Lt. Tim Gorman, U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesperson, told TheDCNF. “We expect the ship will remain outside of U.S. territorial seas and not operate in a manner that disrupts the Rim of the Pacific exercise.”
“We have taken all precautions necessary to protect our critical information. The ship’s presence has not affected the conduct of the exercise,” he added.
Other RIMPAC participants expressed displeasure with the presence of the Chinese naval vessel spying on the exercises, the largest international maritime naval exercises in the world.
“It is very disappointing that the presence of a non-participating ship could disrupt the exercise,” Chilean Navy Commodore Pablo Niemann told the Star-Advertiser. “I hope and expect all seafarers to act professionally so we may continue to focus on the work at hand and building on the spirit of cooperation that gives purpose to this exercise.”
The Chinese vessels is reportedly a Dongdiao-class spy ship, the same type of vessel sent to observe the RIMPAC exercises in 2014, China’s first year participating in this event. The latest deployment, however, comes after China was disinvited from the exercises. (RELATED: US Kicks China Out Of The World’s Largest International Naval Exercise Over Chinese Militarization In The South China Sea)
“We have strong evidence that China has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, and electronic jammers to contested features in the Spratly Islands region of the South China Sea. China’s landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island has also raised tensions,” the Pentagon explained in a statement to TheDCNF at the time.
The U.S. “disinvited the PLAN from the 2018 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise,” the statement said. China regularly argues its actions in the South China Sea are strictly defensive in nature.
Commenting on the Chinese spy ship’s presence off the coast of Hawaii, Dr. Andrew Erickson, an expert with deep knowledge of China’s naval activities, tweeted that China is enjoying an “intelligence collection feast.”
“This isn’t just a case of China’s navy taking a nice trip to Hawaii or crashing a party for (geo)political purposes. It’s a case of China’s navy enjoying an intelligence collection feast that is rarely equaled given the sheer scope and diversity of the foreign naval participants,” he wrote.
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