China denies spying US Navy carrier in Japanese waters

Responding to reports of a Chinese spy ship entering Japanese waters while spying on U.S. Navy aircraft carrier John C. Stennis (CVN-74), China’s Ministry of National Defense released a statement saying the Chinese warship conducted “normal navigation and training in relevant waters of the Western Pacific on June 15, 2016.”

To remind, Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko told reporters June 15 that a Dongdiao-class intelligence vessel entered Japanese territorial waters west of Kuchinoerabu Island while it was spying on the U.S. Navy’s Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis which is taking part in the U.S., Japanese, Indian naval exercise Malabar 2016 in the Western Pacific.

Additionally, speaking at a regular press conference Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said: “Chinese naval vessels were on an exercise in far seas as scheduled in the annual plan, during which they passed through the Tokara Strait.”

“It is worth pointing out that the Tokara Strait is for international navigation and vessels from all countries are entitled to innocent passage in these waters without prior notice or approval. Japan insisted on playing up this issue while knowing clearly this fact, and that’s why we have every reason to question its hidden motives.”

However, USS John C. Stennis captain Gregory C. Huffman confirmed to media that a Chinese vessel began shadowing the drills and the aircraft carrier from a distance of about 7 to 10 miles. He added that the vessel followed them from the South China Sea.