Australia accuses Chinese warship of shining a laser at its patrol plane
A Chinese navy vessel aimed a laser at an Australian military aircraft in flight over Australia’s northern approaches, illuminating the aircraft and potentially endangering lives, Australian Defense said on Saturday.
A P-8A Poseidon – a maritime patrol aircraft – detected a laser emanating from a People’s Liberation Army – Navy (PLA-N) ship, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
“The illumination of the aircraft by the Chinese vessel is a serious security incident,” the department said. “Acts like this have the potential to put lives at risk. We strongly condemn unprofessional and dangerous military behavior.”
The Chinese vessel was sailing east with another PLA-N vessel through the Arafura Sea at the time of the incident, the department said. The sea stretches between the northern coast of Australia and the southern coast of New Guinea.
The Department of Defense said the two ships had since transited Torres Strait and were in the Coral Sea.
Relations between Australia and China, its biggest trading partner, soured after Canberra banned Huawei Technologies from its 5G broadband network in 2018, toughened laws against foreign political interference and called for an independent investigation into origins of COVID-19.
In 2019, Chinese maritime militia ships launched a series of laser attacks on Australian pilots as they flew over the South China Sea, according to a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
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