Thursday, October 13, 2016
Chinese 'spy ship' spotted in Auckland Harbour
A Chinese spy ship has come in from the cold to berth in Auckland harbour, but according to one security analyst, its presence is no cause for concern.
According to port records, the ship arrived on Sunday and is expected to stay until Thursday.
However, the vessel was spotted in Auckland as early as last Thursday.
The vessel is named the Yuan Wang 5, which translates to "long view" - an apt name for a ship equipped with satellite technology.
Security analyst Dr Paul Buchanan said it was a spy ship.
"They're what we call multi-platform. Their public mission is to monitor their satellites and missiles. That's about 30 per cent of what they do," he said.
"Signal intelligence, predominantly of the United States, naval threats and observing other countries telemetry data ... they try to listen to submarine communications.
"That's probably 60, 70 per cent of what they do."
There were similar American and French vessels with a South Pacific presence, Buchanan said.
He noted the crew of 450 was disproportionate to the number of people required for its public purpose.
"Most of them will not be sailors."
However, Buchanan said there was little reason to be concerned.
"There's no real big deal. We'll be listening to them listening to us ... our spies will want to have a look, and probably will," he said.
"Some people are saying 'they're coming in to listen closer' but they don't need to come into port to listen to us if they wanted to."
If it is a spy operation it isn't a particularly savvy one - the vessel isn't exactly in unostentatious hiding, being snapped by Reddit users four days ago.
Buchanan said we can expect similar ships to dock in our harbours in future.
"It's part of a bigger scene, and that game is only going to become more intense.
"It's part of China's push to be a great power ... in order to be a great power, you need to make your presence known in a far-off place."
China recently signed a deal with Argentina allowing them to have a satellite station on Argentinian territory, meaning many spy ships in the vicinity of South America could be re-deployed to the Pacific in future, he said.
Representatives from the Chinese Embassy were not immediately available for comment.