Australian defence officials stated on Monday, July 8th that they were observing a Chinese surveillance vessel that is expected to position itself just outside of its territorial waters to monitor US-Australian military exercises.
Up to 25,000 Australian and US military personnel are taking part in this year’s Operation Talisman Sabre off the coast of Queensland, according to Reuters.
Lieutenant General Greg Bilton, chief of joint operations at the Australian Defence Force, remarked: “"We're tracking it. We don't know yet its destination but we are assuming that it will come down to the east coast of Queensland and we will take appropriate measures."
Last month, the unannounced appearance of three Chinese vessels caught locals by surprise after the vessels arrived in Sydney harbour for a visit which was not publicly announced in advance by the Australian government.
The fact is that both China and Australia are competing for influence in the resource-rich South Pacific, where Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims.
US-Chinese relations have been deteriorating in recent months due to a trade war. Beijing has made great efforts to modernise its navy, seeking to extend its influence and become one of the mightiest navies in the world.