Australia calls for explanation from China after alleged laser incident
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday called on Beijing to explain a recent “reckless” incident in which a Chinese warship allegedly used a laser to illuminate an Australian jet off of Australia’s northern coast.
Last week, a P-8A Poseidon detected a laser illuminating off of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy vessel. According to Australia’s Defence Force, illuminating the aircraft with a laser could have endangered the safety of the personnel on board.
“This was dangerous, it was unprofessional and it was reckless for a professional navy, and we want some answers as to why they did this,” Morrison said Monday, CNN reported. “At worst, it was intimidating and bullying.”
“They’re the ones who need to explain, not just to Australia, but to think of all the countries in our region,” he continued. “It could occur to anyone else who is just simply doing the normal surveillance of their own Exclusive Economic Zone.”
According to Morrison, Chinese authorities have yet to respond to his calls for answers, though Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin insisted that the ship had abided by international laws.
“After checking with relevant Chinese authorities, the information released by the Australian side is not true. The normal navigation of the Chinese ship on the high seas conforms to relevant international law and practice and is completely legitimate and lawful,” said Wang.
Relations between Australia and China have been fraught since it was announced that the U.S. and United Kingdom would be helping Australia develop nuclear submarines. When the deal was announced, China blasted it, saying it was a threat to regional stability and security.