The latest annual Pentagon report on the Chinese military notes a concerted increase in the dispatch and reach of Beijing’s intelligence ships, or AGIs, for spying on U.S. and allied targets.
According to the report, a Chinese spy ship secretly monitored a “live test of the THAAD missile defense system” near Alaska during the pinnacle of the Trump-Kim nuclear negotiation summit in July.
The ground-based THAAD, or Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, system is one of America’s most effective. The Chinese are also determined to keep a THAAD system out of South Korea.
While China is a signatory to the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention permitting military activities such as intelligence-gather ships, it restricts such military intelligence operations in its own zones.
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The Pentagon report includes a map showing PLA Navy military operations inside other nations’ EEZs, including the July 2016 THAAD test near Alaska.
Other uninvited PLA Navy foreign EEZ incursions involving spy ships took place near Hawaii during RIMPAC; near Australia in 2017 during the U.S.-Australian naval exercise Talisman Saber; and near the U.S. island of Guam during Exercise Valiant Shield in 2016.
Additional PLA Navy EEZ incursions were detected in the Sea of Japan and Bering Sea, near the Philippines, near Malaysia, near Indonesia’s Java, and near Djibouti on the Horn of Africa where China has its first overseas military base. Those ship incursions were carried out by Chinese destroyers, frigates, amphibious ships, and replenishment ships.