Australian PM Albanese says China military air incident unacceptable


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Australian PM Albanese says China military air incident unacceptable

FILE PHOTO: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (right) gives an address to the Leaders’ Plenary during the 2024 ASEAN-Australia Special Summit at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre in Melbourne, Australia, March 6, 2024.


Australia says a Chinese fighter jet endangers an Australian military helicopter during an unsafe and unacceptable confrontation over the Yellow Sea

SYDNEY, Australia – Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Tuesday, May 7, it was unacceptable for Australian defence personnel to be put at risk in international airspace by the Chinese military as they took part in an operation to enforce United Nations sanctions on North Korea.

A Chinese fighter jet endangered an Australian military helicopter during an unsafe and unacceptable confrontation over the Yellow Sea, Australia said on Monday.

The Chinese air force J-10 jet dropped flares above and several hundred meters ahead of an Australian MH60R Seahawk helicopter on a routine flight on Saturday in the Yellow Sea as part of an operation to enforce sanctions against North Korea, Defence Minister Richard Marles said on Monday evening.

In a television interview, Albanese said China had not yet responded publicly to Australia’s representations over the incident.

“This issue, we have made public in order to be able to speak out very clearly and unequivocally that this behavior is unacceptable,” he told Nine’s Today Show.

The Australian Defense Force personnel were “in international waters, international airspace, and they’re doing work to ensure that the sanctions that the world has imposed through the United Nations on North Korea, due to their intransient and reckless behavior, are enforced”.

“They shouldn’t have been at any risk,” he said.

The Australian public expected an explanation from China about the incident, and Australia had made “very strong representations at every level to China”, he added.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang is expected to visit Australia next month, he said.

“We will make our position clear as well in discussions,” he said.

The helicopter, flying from destroyer HMAS Hobart, dodged the flares. The confrontation put the aircraft and those on board at risk, although no one was hurt, the Department of Defense said in a separate statement.

This is the second such incident in six months to mar what has otherwise been a growing rapprochement between the two countries after years of strained relations and trade disputes.

Australia said in November a Chinese naval vessel injured some of its divers in Japanese waters using an underwater sonar. China denied it had used its sonar, however Australia rejected the explanation.

In 2022, Australia protested after a Chinese navy vessel pointed a laser at an Australian military aircraft close to Australia’s northern coast.

In a separate incident in 2022, Australia said a Chinese fighter aircraft dangerously intercepted an Australian military surveillance plane in the South China Sea, releasing a “bundle of chaff” containing pieces of aluminium that were ingested into the Australian aircraft’s engine.

Liu Jianchao, head of the international department of the Chinese Communist Party, said during a visit to Australia in November the Australian navy’s movements in the South China Sea and East China Sea appeared to be an effort to contain China.

Australia has rejected this, saying it respects the right of all states to exercise freedom of navigation and overflight in accordance with international law.

China claims sovereignty over much of the South China Sea, a conduit for more than $3 trillion of annual ship-borne commerce, including parts claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. An international tribunal in 2016 said China’s expansive claim had no legal basis.

Chinese navy vessels have been tracked off Australia’s coast several times in recent years, including monitoring exercises with the US military. –

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