News / Asia

China Ship Sent to Spy on RIMPAC Naval Exercises

Naval ships from various countries are docked at Hawaii's Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Oahu, Hawaii, July 5, 2014.
Naval ships from various countries are docked at Hawaii's Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Oahu, Hawaii, July 5, 2014.

China has sent a spy ship to international waters off Hawaii during a giant U.S.-led naval exercise involving 22 countries, even though Beijing is participating in the drills for the first time this year, the U.S. Navy said on Sunday.

The Navy played down any U.S. intelligence risk associated with the proximity of the Chinese surveillance vessel and noted that China also sent a similar ship to monitor the last Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise two years ago.

“We've taken all necessary precautions to protect our critical information,” said Captain Darryn James, chief spokesman of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

“We expect this ship will remain outside of U.S. territorial seas and not operate in a manner that disrupts the ongoing Rim of the Pacific maritime exercise.”

International law

China's Defense Ministry, in a statement faxed to Reuters, said its naval vessels had the right under international law to operate “in waters outside of other country's territorial waters”.

“China respects the rights granted under international law to relevant littoral states, and hopes that relevant countries can respect the legal rights Chinese ships have,” it said, without elaborating.

U.S. officials hope China's participation in RIMPAC helps avert misunderstandings on the high seas but analysts long cautioned the maneuvers may ultimately help Beijing strengthen its growing naval capability by observing the forces of the United States and its allies.

Still, the United States also conducts surveillance operations in international waters and airspace and the Navy did not voice protest over the appearance of the Chinese vessel, described as a Chinese Navy auxiliary general intelligence ship.

Even though the vessel was inside America's 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone, it was operating within international law, James said.

Still, James said he was unaware of any participant doing something similar since the drills began in 1971.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time a nation has ever sent a surveillance ship near Hawaii while also having invited ships participating in the RIMPAC exercise,” James said.


The Chinese ships participating in the drills are missile destroyer Haikou, missile frigate Yueyang, supply ship Qiandaohu and hospital ship Peace Ark.

Chinese forces include two helicopters, a commando unit and a diving unit, a total 1,100 personnel.

The exercises come at a time when tensions are high between Beijing and U.S. allies such as Japan and the Philippines over China's pressing of territorial claims in the South and East China Seas.

They also come after a dispute between China and Vietnam that led to one of the worst breakdowns in ties since they fought a brief war in 1979.  

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Comment Sorting
by: Frank from: O.C. USA
July 21, 2014 11:12 AM
That's why I warned USA and its allies: what is going on? Do USA and its allies teach Chinese skills how to fight with enemy? Isn't China a hypothetical enemy of USA and its allies? It is stupid to allow an enemy to steal expertise and experiences accumulated in the alliance over a long time. China is already the biggest enemy of the world's peace and justice. Teach Chinese at first manners and ethics!

by: meanbill from: USA
July 21, 2014 10:10 AM
Naval powers controlled the world in colonial times, and they still are great weapons (only) against countries that haven't any defense against them, (but the last great naval war was in 1944), and it's not been proven, that a naval war on the high seas would even be possible, or logical, with all the nuclear rockets, missiles, and torpedoes now in service.....

But the US has the most naval aircraft carrier fleets, even though they wouldn't be effective against other super powers, because they haven't enough war planes on the aircraft carriers, to counter a much larger land air force.... and China remembers the US, Europeans, Russian, and Japanese "Gunboat Treaties" they forced upon them, and now builds their naval power up.....

by: william li from: canada
July 21, 2014 9:53 AM
sorry, america didnt ratify the UNCLOSE yet, how come it has the 200 miles nm EEZ?

this international sea law doesnt apply to america.

BTW, good job China, spoiled ameirca needs to be watched and checked!
In Response

by: William li from: Canada
July 26, 2014 10:48 AM
@t, perhaps all Americans should go back to Europe or Africa, and leave aboriginals alone!
Perhaps America should leave Guam also which is too far from America.
In Response

by: t
July 25, 2014 8:33 PM
Perhaps you should go back to China, where there is an oppressive government that wants to control your life rather than living in a Western country where the government respects your existence.

The US is not the one in a territorial disputes with all of its neighbors nor is it the one that claims 90% of the east sea which includes territories from 6 different countries and more.
In Response

by: Aldrin from: PH
July 24, 2014 1:06 AM
Then China should respect the EEZ of other countries, specially its neighboring countries - and stop using its military muscle to impose its will in the region. China is the who should be checked.

by: Ray Durant from: Palm Springs
July 21, 2014 5:30 AM
Let's be hospitable... if they are going to be handing around out there watching what's going, on invite them to tie up in Pearl Harbor for a bit of shore break.

by: Valentine from: Lagos
July 21, 2014 4:48 AM
One day, the US will pay heavily for been lousy.

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