The Canadian military has discovered Chinese spy buoys in the Arctic which are monitoring US submarines and melting ice sheets.
Such “activity is not new”, Canadian defence minister Anita Anand said in televised remarks, implying that China has been engaging in surveillance efforts in the region for some time.
Officials described the objects as “dual-purpose technologies” but they have been reported in Canadian media as buoys used for spying.
It is unclear whether the Chinese buoys floated into Canadian waters or were purposefully anchored into the waters.
Monitoring buoys can follow environmental and weather conditions, the salinity of water, and track fish.
Earlier this week, a giant mystery ball washed ashore in Japan, later found to be a buoy, though no owner has laid claim.
Daniel Le Bouthillier, from the Department of National Defence said the Canadian military found and retrieved the monitoring devices but gave no further information about the operation.
China has long been interested in building a presence in the Arctic which will allow it to secure a shorter trade route to Europe as glaciers melt.
But as China’s presence expands globally, so have concerns over undue influence, surveillance and espionage.
Canada’s foreign minister Melanie Joly said that China is an increasingly disruptive power, in an interview with CNN.
“When it comes to China, we will challenge China when we ought to, and we will cooperate with China when we need to,” she said.
“When it comes to issues over the Arctic within our maritime borders, or any form of foreign interference, we will be clear, and that’s how we will address this issue.”
Earlier this month a suspected Chinese spy balloon flew over Canadian airspace into the US, before the American military shot it down into the Atlantic Ocean.
Beijing has denied that the balloon served any surveillance purposes, saying instead that it was a weather research “airship.”
The Canadian parliament is also currently investigating allegations of Chinese election interference.