China says Australian spy plane flew ‘maliciously’ in laser incident
China was accused of endangering lives by the Australian government last month when a laser was aimed at an RAAF P-8 Poseidon aircraft as it surveyed two Army warships People’s Liberation-Navy (PLA-N) sailing in the Arafura Sea.
China’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) this week released a short video clip recorded on a warship, apparently showing the Australian aircraft flying nearby in a “harmful” manner.
“It is evident from the video taken by the Chinese navy vessel that the Australian military aircraft was conducting close reconnaissance of the Chinese navy vessels,” Senior Colonel Tan Kefei said.
“The conduct of the Australian military aircraft was malicious in intent and unprofessional in its operation and posed threats to the safety of vessels, aircraft and personnel on both sides.”
The targeting of the Australian plane by the military-grade laser was condemned by the federal government last month.
Defense Minister Peter Dutton called it a “very dangerous act” which endangered the lives of 10 crew members.
The two PLA Navy vessels, which included a guided missile destroyer, were sailing in the Arafura Sea, through the Torres Strait and in the Coral Sea on February 17 when the attack on the P8 with a very powerful military grade laser was launched.
“This is an industrial-scale technique,” Dutton said, explaining the power and consequences of the laser hitting an aircraft.
“It can confuse radars and in some circumstances blind the crew,” he said. “It was a very dangerous act.”
Mr Dutton said the P8 tracked the Chinese vessels because ‘these two vessels were in our area’ and ‘China would do the exact same thing if we passed any vessels in their waters’.
Why the South China Sea Dispute Matters
The United States and its allies, including Australia, have expressed concern over China’s ambitions in Asia and the Pacific.