31 Oct 2019

'Unusual' Chinese naval training in Pacific - academic

7:48 am on 31 October 2019
 Photo taken on July 31, 2017 shows the opening ceremony of the 4th national military camp for students in Dalian, coastal city of northeast China's Liaoning Province.

Photo: AFP

The crew of a Chinese navy vessel is undertaking unusual training in the Pacific, a New Zealand academic says.

The Qi Jiguang is on its way to Fiji after spending five days in the New Zealand capital, Wellington, where 500 cadets received training in the notoriously fickle Cook Strait.

On Saturday the vessel arrived in Wellington from Papua New Guinea.

A politics professor at the University of Canterbury, Anne Marie Brady, said the ship's crew was being trained in significant Pacific waters.

"It was doing training exercises in important channels and waterways, such as Taiwan's strait, the Karimata Strait, Torres Strait, Osumi Strait, which is in Japan, and unusually Cook Strait," Prof Brady said.

"We don't usually see foreign navies coming down to train in what are New Zealand's internal waters."

Chinese media said the ship was on a two month voyage through the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea, the South China Sea, the Java Sea, the Banda Sea and the Timor Sea and that its crew was studying navigation.

The Chinese crew also received training alongside the New Zealand Navy and visited Wellington's Victoria University.

The New Zealand foreign minister's office was approached for comment on the visit but Winston Peters was unavailable.

The Chinese Embassy could not be reached for comment.