Scott Morrison responds to Chinese spy ship 'watching' Australia: 'STAND UP'

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·News Reporter
·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has dismissed the significance of a Chinese spy ship spending three weeks off the coast of Australia earlier this year but warned the nation must "stand up" to increasing threats in the region.

The Yuhengxing, a general intelligence ship, transited through the Torres Strait and sailed as far down as Sydney during a three-week stint off the coast of Australia in August and September.

Mr Morrison said while such an act by Australia in the South China Sea would provoke an angry reaction from Beijing, the recent visit was well within China's rights.

He said Australia's presence in the South China Sea was one of many reasons China had "taken great issue with" but warned Beijing Australia would not kowtow to demands to change stances.

Scott Morrison said Australia was carefully watching the Chinese vessel. Source: ABC
Scott Morrison said Australia was carefully watching the Chinese vessel. Source: ABC

"These are not issues any self-respecting government like Australia would give ground on," he told reporters.

The prime minister, who repeatedly refuses to be intimidated by China's advances, said Beijing weren't the only ones surveilling the situation.

"We were keeping an eye on them just as they were keeping an eye on us," Mr Morrison said.

A photo released by the Department of Defence supports his claim and shows the HMAS Supply monitoring the Chinese ship.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said Australia had closely monitored the vessel as part of routine border protection matters.

The Chinese intelligence ship Yuhengxing pictured off the east coast of Australia in August. Source: AAP
The Chinese intelligence ship Yuhengxing pictured off the east coast of Australia in August. Source: AAP

Peter Dutton continues on the offensive

It comes as Defence Minister Peter Dutton continued his recent hardline commentary about China's threat in the Indo-Pacific with a National Press Club speech which largely focused on the communist powerhouse.

“Today, we face the most significant change in our strategic environment since the Second World War,” he said on Friday.

“Along with peoples of the Indo-Pacific and the world, Australians have watched, and we’ve watched very closely as the Chinese government has engaged in increasingly alarming activities.”

He defended his continued warnings about China and said if Taiwan is forcefully reunified with China without resistance, it would be catastrophic for Indo-Pacific nations such as Australia that Beijing perceive as "tributary states".

"It's why speaking up and being heard now is essential," he said.

Peter Dutton at the National Press Club on Friday reiterated his position on China. Source: AAP
Peter Dutton at the National Press Club on Friday reiterated his position on China. Source: AAP

Key Cabinet ministers singing from the same hymn sheet

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg reiterated that Australia took the necessary precautions and lauded the new AUKUS trilateral security arrangement with the United States and Britain as vital to national security.

"No surprises here that everyone wants to get the opportunity to get that little bit of extra information if they can," he told the Seven Network.

"We knew they were there, we continued to do our business ... but it also underlines the challenging strategic environment that Australia is in.

"We've entered into strategic partnerships like AUKUS with two valued, trusted partners who are going to share the most up-to-date technology with our defence forces and with our security personnel."

Mr Morrison said the significant security issues in the region warranted strong Australian action and reaffirmed the government's need to acquire nuclear-propelled submarines.

"The presence of the Chinese navy highlights to Australians that there is a very serious situation in the Indo-Pacific.

"No one can be complacent about the situation."

China has previously sent military ships to monitor defence training exercises, like Talisman Sabre off the east coast in July, and three warships sailed into Sydney Harbour unannounced on the eve of the Tiananmen Square massacre anniversary in 2019.

With AAP

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting