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China deploys naval task group to US EEZ

A task force of Chinese naval ships was monitored by the US Coast Guard as it sailed in waters off the coast of Alaska in the US exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in late August, according to images published online on the US Defense Visual Information Distribution Service.

A statement given to Janes by a Pentagon spokesperson referred to the ships as “People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Task Group 101” and confirmed that the ships were operating in international waters near Alaska, including in the US EEZ.

“While we will continue to monitor the activities of these ships with interest, the Department of Defense has no objection to foreign vessels – [including] warships from the People's Republic of China – operating in international waters, even those adjacent to the United States,” the spokesperson noted.

The reference to ‘Task Group 101' appears to confirm that the ships are those that were monitored by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force as they passed through the Tsushima and Soya Straits on 22–24 August. Images published by the JMSDF identified these as Type 055 destroyer Nanchang (pennant number 101), Type 052D destroyer Guiyang (119), Type 815 intelligence collection ship (799), and a Type 903 replenishment ship.

The ships are reported to have operated in the Bering Sea, north of the Aleutian Islands, which extend westward from the coast of Alaska towards the Russian coast. Due to this geographical spread, the US EEZ encompasses an extensive area.

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