Chinese papers have revealed the discovery of a Canada-made 'spy submersible probe'. Photo: Xinhua

The Chinese State Security Ministry has commended a “vigilant, patriotic” fisherman who reportedly found a suspicious-looking submersible on a beach in Zhejiang province.

The unmanned underwater vehicle was later grabbed from the East China Sea and classed by Chinese national security agents as a “spy submersible probe” from Canada, according to state media.

The Global Times said in a report that the machine, made by a Canadian company, could reach a depth of 600 meters and was equipped with a high definition camera, a sonar, plus a military-grade positioning system.

The villager, surnamed Yang, found the thin yellow device, just a few meters long, in Beiguandao Beach in Wenzhou in Zhejiang province in September and handed it over to local authorities.

The device could not only collect environmental data but also engage in close-range reconnaissance and intelligence gathering, it was claimed.

It is unclear if Beijing has lodged a complaint to Ottawa or whether the Canada-made device was used by a third country. Canada is seldom involved in the military espionage operations in China even though it is a key ally of the US.

The state security department said anyone who finds such machines or monitoring equipment should surrender them to the government.

State papers have highlighted threats to China’s national security as various espionage devices from foreign powers have been used to pry on China’s marine activities. They claim that universities and vital research institutes are “crawling with spies from the West”.

Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, told the Global Times it was no surprise to find foreign equipment and military personnel like those from the US and its allies putting submersible devices into Chinese waters, especially in the East China Sea and South China Sea.

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