A giant U.S.-led naval exercise with 22 nations from around the world got an unexpected visitor on Sunday — a Chinese spy ship perched in international waters.
The 24th Rim of the Pacific exercises (RIMPAC) in and around the Hawaiian Islands features more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel. China is part of a host of nations taking part, which also includes Australia, Canada, France, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, the United Kingdom and others.
"We've taken all necessary precautions to protect our critical information," said Captain Darryn James, chief spokesman of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Reuters reported Sunday.
Capt. James said he was unaware of any nation bringing such a vessel to the naval exercises, which have gone on since 1971. The Chinese ships taking part are the missile destroyer Haikou, the missile frigate Yueyang, the supply ship Qiandaohu and the hospital ship Peace Ark, the news service said.
"To my knowledge, this is the first time a nation has ever sent a surveillance ship near Hawaii while also having invited ships participating in the RIMPAC exercise," Capt. James said, Reuters reported.
The U.S. Navy did not protest the move, as China's ship is in international waters.
The RIMPAC exercises, which are held every two years, will officially come to an end with a closing reception August 1.
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