The vessel, which was first reported by the Daily Telegraph, is understood to be of the Dongdiao-class which is capable of monitoring communications and radar signals and the electromagnetic spectrum, along with employing additional surveillance methods.
“We are aware that the People’s Liberation Army (Navy) General Intelligence Ship Yuhengxing operated off Australia’s east coast in August 2021,” a Defence Department spokesperson said in a statement provided to
The Department also confirmed Australia monitored “all vessels operating in our maritime approaches”.
A Chinese spy ship spotted off Australia’s east coast, having spent several weeks in August gathering intelligence. Picture: Supplied
Defence sources also told the Daily Telegraph the ship’s presence was unusual as there were no war games or military exercises taking place in the vicinity at the time.
The Chinese vessel is understood to have entered Australia’s 200 kilometre exclusion zone off the coast of Darwin in August and spent time monitoring the Shoalwater Bay training area in Queensland, the Daily Telegraph reported.
It also sailed past a number of significant Australian military facilities, including several training areas used by the Royal Australian Air Force before travelling south to Sydney and making its way towards New Zealand.
The Chinese spy ship pictured with Royal Australian Navy vessel HMAS Supply. Picture: Supplied
“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),” the Defence spokesperson continued.
“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.”
Images of the Chinese spy ship obtained by show the Chinese flag being flown above the vessel.
Differences in ‘diplomatic approach’ versus ‘security approach’ towards issue of China
This event is not the first time a Chinese spy ship was spotted in Australian waters, with auxiliary general intelligence vessel Tianwangxing having entered Australia’s Economic Exclusion Zone in July this year. 
The spy ship was understood to have been monitoring war games between Australia, the United States, Japan, Canada and New Zealand, however, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at the time Canberra was “very wary” of its presence. 
The Chinese vessel was also present in Australian waters during the 2017 and 2019 Talisman Sabre bi-annual war games. 

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