A Chinese “spy ship” slipped into Auckland over the weekend, sparking comments on social media from Kiwis feeling uneasy about its presence.
The Yuan Wang 5, listed on the port website as planning a stay from October 2 to 6, is described on Wikipedia as one of a class of Chinese naval vessels “used for tracking and support of satellite and intercontinental ballistic missiles”.
Security analyst Dr Paul Buchanan said ships of the same class had visited Auckland before since at least 2005.
“They are spy ships,” he said. “They are dual platforms. They are used to track satellites, and they are basically intelligence collection platforms. From what I understand, 60 to 70 per cent of their work is looking for other people’s signals and 30 per cent is the satellite work.”
Aucklander Brook Turner posted a photo on Facebook, saying: “Not sure how I feel about having a boat like this in NZ.”
Jayden Dunn commented: “So we throw a hissy over America coming here (and rightly so) but no one even heard about a military class surveillance vessel from PRC [People’s Republic of China]? I don’t want either of them in our waters. I thought we were a peaceful country with particular military values. I might be wrong.”
Buchanan said New Zealand authorities were aware of what the ship was doing and had no reason to stop it visiting this country.
“Part of the reason that it’s not problematic is that the United States, as well as other Western nations, also have signals collection ships in the South Pacific,” he said.
“Our signals people listen in to them listening to us, that’s the way the game is played. There’s no compelling reason to prohibit them from coming in.”