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Australian PM accuses Chinese navy ship of pointing laser at military aircraft

Feb 21, 2022


Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison “demanded that there be an investigation” into a Chinese navy ship accused of “using a laser to target a Australian Defence Force surveillance aircraft.” At a Monday news conference, Prime Minister Morrison described the actions as “completely unacceptable.”

“It was dangerous, it was reckless, and it was unprofessional for what should be a sophisticated Navy,” Morrison said. “We expect, and not just Australia, all countries in the region demand an answer to this because it’s an Australian surveillance aircraft this time. Who’s next?”

On Saturday, the Australian Defense Department said the incident happened as the aircraft was flying over northern Australia last Thursday. The ship was reportedly accompanying another Chinese Navy ship through the Torres Strait when it flashed the laser. On Monday, Morrison said the ship was so close to Australia’s coast that the laser could have been seen from the shore.

“This is not ok, and there needs to be an explanation,” Morrison said. “We can’t have this sort of behavior going on.”

Chinese officials responded Monday, saying Australia’s version of events did “not square up with facts.”

“The Chinese vessels are sailing normally in the high seas in accordance with relevant international law and international practice. It is fully legitimate and legal,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman said. “We urge the Australian side to respect the legitimate rights of Chinese vessels in the relevant waters in accordance with international law and stop maliciously spreading false information against China.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for China’s defense ministry accused Australia of dropping a Sonobuoy, which can help detect submarines, near Chinese ships.

One of the countries that may weigh in on the situation is the United States. The country has had its naval issues regarding China, and just last September, the U.S., Australia and Great Britain teamed up to form a new alliance focused on the Indo-Pacific region. A spokesperson for for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the alliance “severely damages regional peace and stability, intensifies the arms race, and jeopardizes the international efforts in promoting the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.”

Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia: “I’m very concerned about the actions, though, of using the lasers on an Australian surveillance aircraft. That is, I can see it no other way than an act of intimidation, one that was unprovoked, unwarranted, and Australia will never accept such acts of intimidation. They are in our exclusive economic zone, it did not occur in Australian waters, but I have no doubt that if it had been an Australian vessel or a British vessel, American vessel, a French vessel, a Japanese vessel for that matter, or German, that was going through a similar waters up in the South China sea, and that was done to a Chinese surveillance aircraft, then I think people can guess about what the reaction to that would have been. So, it was a dangerous act, these sorts of things can disable such aircraft and put those on that aircraft at great risk. So, I thought it was a reckless and irresponsible act and it should not occur. Now, we’re raising those issues directly through the diplomatic and defence channels.”

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