Chinese Salvage Ship Caught Looting WWII Wrecks

A Chinese vessel has been caught plundering graves at sea.

According to Malaysian media, the vessel illegally salvaged the remains of two British warships last week.

The battleship wrecks sit in Malaysian waters and were officially designated as war graves.

In December 1941, Japanese bombers sunk both ships—the HMS Prince of Wales and battle cruiser HMS Repulse—along with 840 sailors onboard. That was only days after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The steel used for warships at the time was of high quality, meaning it can still be smelted into new products today.

The salvage vessel, known as Chuan 68, belongs to a maritime company in southern China. The ship is also wanted by Indonesian authorities. That’s for plundering the wrecks of Dutch warships in the Java Sea. Beyond that, the vessel is notorious for looting World War Two shipwrecks in Singaporean, Cambodian, and Vietnamese waters over the years.

Beijing claims almost the entire South China Sea as its sovereign territory and routinely encroaches on the exclusive economic zones of its neighbors. That’s despite a 2016 international arbitration ruling that invalidated those claims.

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