FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show Drone Footage Of Chinese Troops On A Cargo Ship Off The Coast Of America?

Hannah Hudnall | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook allegedly shows part of drone footage in which Chinese troops can be seen in a cargo ship off the U.S.’s coast.



Verdict: False

The image actually shows asylum-seekers, mostly from Afghanistan, on a ship off the coast of Australia’s Christmas Island in 2001.

Fact Check 

The post features a screen grab of a TikTok containing aerial imagery showing dozens of people sitting on the deck of a cargo ship. Text below the screen grab reads, in part, “Share share share, caught Chinese troops in the containers off our coast, make sense yet??????” The TikTok video has garnered over 1,900 likes to date.

The claim that the image shows drone footage of Chinese troops in a ship off the U.S. coast has circulated amid the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach continuing to experience a logjam of container ships waiting to unload. (RELATED: Does This Image Show ‘All Sitting Ships’ Waiting To Dock At Ports?)

A reverse image search traced the picture to the Australian Associated Press (AAP) website, where the description indicates it was actually taken off the coast of Christmas Island back in August 2001. It shows “some of the 438 asylum seekers onboard the Norwegian cargo ship MV Tampa on Monday 27th August, 2001,” after they were rescued from a sinking boat in international waters, according to the AAP’s caption. The photo can also be found on Amnesty International Australia’s website, where it is linked to the same incident, referred to as the “Tampa Affair.”

During the “Tampa Affair,” the Australian government denied the MV Tampa’s request to enter the country’s territorial waters and, when the ship did so anyway, sent Australian special forces to board the ship to prevent it from getting closer to Christmas Island, The Guardian reported. The asylum-seekers rescued by the Norwegian ship were mainly Afghans fleeing the Taliban, according to the National Museum of Australia.

Check Your Fact has previously addressed other claims related to the ongoing U.S. shipping backlog, including a video purportedly showing cargo ships waiting off the West Coast that was actually taken near Bangladesh.

Hannah Hudnall

Fact Check Reporter