Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command confirmed that a Dongdiao-class auxiliary general intelligence ship is “currently in the economic zone of the United States off of Hawaii, monitoring the activities of RIMPAC.”
Locklear said, “The good news about this is that it’s a recognition, I think, or an acceptance by the Chinese of what we’ve been saying to them for some time, is that military operations and survey operations in another country’s EEZs, where you have national – your own national security interest, are within international law and are acceptable. And this is a fundamental right that nations have.”
“And so we have reiterated that to all the nations that are in RIMPAC, as well as the Chinese, that this is within the law and it’s their right to do it, and as long as they do it in a non-intrusive in a way that doesn’t interfere, that it’s – that it’s OK by the law.”
However, Locklear said it is just ironic that this is the first time China joined that said biggest naval drill in the world and they sent an uninvited ship.
“It is a little odd that you’d come for the first time to an exercise where I quite have observed and quite believe that this is an opportunity and the Chinese recognize it’s an opportunity for them to interact on a broad scale with 22 nations, some of them that they have disagreements with in other areas. And it’s an opportunity to build trust and confidence, and that’s happening.”
“The introduction of the AGI kind of made it look a little odd, but it hasn’t stopped the exercise and it hasn’t created any difficulties in the exercise. And I guess on the other good side, it gives the Chinese the opportunity to see how their own ships are doing, so which I understand is pretty good.”