Canberra says a Chinese warship put the lives of an Australian plane’s crew in danger
Australia’s prime minister has demanded a probe into a recent incident in which a Chinese Navy vessel supposedly pointed a laser at an Australian warplane.
“This is completely unacceptable. And so we have demanded that there be an investigation on the behavior of what occurred on that vessel,” Scott Morrison told reporters in Tasmania on Monday.
“So we expect China to provide some answers on those matters and we are going through those appropriate channels to achieve that.”
Australia’s Defense Ministry said earlier that, on Thursday, an unspecified Chinese warship pointed a laser at an Australian P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft flying off the country’s northern coast. The ministry said at the time that the reported action could have endangered the Australian crew’s lives.
Morrison doubled down on Canberra’s claims on Monday. “It happened, and it is indisputable. It was a Chinese naval vessel. It wasn’t operating under some other flag.”
Beijing has not commented on the accusations so far, but rejected a similar claim by the US in 2020. The US Navy said at the time that a Chinese warship pointed a laser at an American spy plane in the Pacific Ocean.
Relations between China and Australia have deteriorated significantly in recent years. In September, Australia signed a strategic security pact with the US and Britain, which provides a path for Canberra to acquire nuclear-powered submarines. Beijing said the tripartite deal, known as AUKUS, is exacerbating the existing tensions in the region.
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