NZDF confirms Chinese spy ship entered NZ ‘economic zone’

A Chinese spy ship entered waters in New Zealand’s economic zone, after spending time near Australia.

The intelligence ship Yuhengxing spotted in Australia's economic zone with a green crosshair, a standard feature of ADF imaging equipment.

A spokesperson for the Australian Defence Force confirmed a ship belonging to the People’s Liberation Army operated off Australia’s east coast in August of this year.

While the intelligence ship Yuhengxing was in Australia’s economic zone, it was not in Australian territorial waters.

Images released to the media show the vessel at sea flying what appears to be the Chinese flag.

According to the Daily Telegraph, which broke the story, the vessel monitored a number of military training areas as it travelled as far south as Sydney, before heading across the Tasman towards New Zealand.

The intelligence ship Yuhengxing and the HMAS Supply.

A spokesperson for the New Zealand Defence Force confirmed to 1News in a statement that it "was aware of the vessel, which did not enter New Zealand territorial waters" but was in the economic zone. It means the ship came within 200 nautical miles of Aotearoa's territorial waters.

An ADF spokesperson said they monitor all vessels operating in Australian waters.

“Australia supports and respects the rights of all states to exercise lawful freedom of navigation and overflight in international waters and airspace, just as we expect them to respect our right to do so.

“Australia expects all foreign vessels entering our maritime zones to abide by international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).”


Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also spoken about the presence of the ship, saying it highlights the tensions in the Indo-Pacific region.

"It does mean that Australia has to be on its guard and Australia has to stand up to those who want to coerce us … and slap trade sanctions on things like our wine, and our government is standing up to that."