China hits back at Australia over spy ship claims

China said on Saturday it “always respects international law” following the Australian Defense Minister’s statement that a Chinese warship with spy capabilities was skirting the country’s west coast.

Minister Peter Dutton said the vessel was seen heading north about 250 nautical miles from Broome in Western Australia on Friday, and had been tracked along the coast for the past week.

Asked about the sighting of the ship, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said he had no information on the specific situation, but “China always abides by international law and practice. international”.

“The concerned Australian politician should view the relevant situation objectively and calmly, and not make sensational remarks,” Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing.

Tensions between China and Australia have escalated recently after China signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands.

READ MORE: Chinese spy ship spotted off Australian coast

Commenting on the Covid outbreak in North Korea, Zhao said Beijing was ready to offer help to North Korea, but said he had no information on any such request.

Asked if China would evacuate its nationals from North Korea, Zhao said Beijing would closely monitor the situation and maintain communication with the North to ensure the health and safety of Chinese citizens there.

Zhao criticized the EU and Japan for interfering in the country’s internal affairs after both sides raised concerns over a range of China-related issues, including rising tensions in the Taiwan Strait and the erosion of democracy in Hong Kong, in a joint statement released on Friday. .

China has filed “severe complaints” with the EU and Japan, Zhao said.

Japan and the European Union agreed on Friday to step up sanctions against Russia as leaders from both sides raised concerns about the impact of the war in the Indo-Pacific, where they seek to strengthen their partnership and increase their engagement in the face of China’s growing assertiveness.

Zhao also commented on the two-day U.S.-ASEAN summit that kicked off Friday in Washington, where U.S. President Joe Biden announced more than NZ$240 million in new projects to boost climate infrastructure. , maritime and public health services in Southeast Asia.

“China and the United States are both Asia-Pacific countries, and we can absolutely have mutual friends,” Zhao insisted, calling on the United States to keep regional interests in mind and “play a positive and constructive role” in promoting regional development.

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