Canberra claimed that Beijing’s vessel directed a laser at an Australian aircraft
Beijing has accused Australia of spreading fake news after Canberra claimed that a Chinese vessel had directed a military laser at an Australian warplane within the latter’s exclusive economic zone.
Speaking in a regular press briefing on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that the country’s ship was abiding by international law and had not committed any wrongdoing against the Australian warplane.
“The Chinese vessel sailing in the high seas complies with relevant international law and international practice and is fully legitimate and legal,” Wang told reporters in Beijing.
“We urge the Australian side to respect Chinese vessels’ legitimate rights in accordance with international law in relevant seas and stop maliciously spreading disinformation in regards to China.”
On Saturday, the Australian defense department reported that a laser was shone from a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) vessel at an Australian surveillance aircraft last Thursday.
Canberra released photos showing that the two PLA vessels – a Luyang-class guided missile destroyer and a Yuzhao-class amphibious transport dock vessel – were traveling through the Arafura Sea, within Australia’s exclusive economic zone, at the time of the incident.
Australia described it “a serious safety incident” adding “acts like this have the potential to endanger lives.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison called it a “reckless and irresponsible … act of intimidation.” He said that Australia was raising the incident through diplomatic and defense channels.
Relations between the two countries have deteriorated greatly in recent years, prompted by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s call for an independent inquiry into the source of the Covid-19 pandemic and a decision to cut Chinese firms out of the country’s 5G infrastructure projects.
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