Australia Accuses Chinese Navy: Australia’s prime minister, Anthony Albanese, hanational waters near Japan. The incident occurred on November 14 when Australian divers aboas accused the Chinese navy of engaging in “dangerous, unsafe, and unprofessional” conduct in interrd the HMAS Toowoomba were attempting to clear fishing nets from its propellers. Despite warnings of an ongoing diving operation, a Chinese destroyer approached, operating its sonar in a way that posed a risk to the safety of the Australian divers. The divers sustained minor injuries, and Australia has expressed “serious concerns” to the Chinese government over the incident. The situation adds tension to diplomatic relations, particularly after Albanese’s recent visit to Beijing to stabilize ties.
In an interview, Albanese expressed his concern about the incident and stated that one person suffered an injury due to China’s actions. However, he did not confirm whether he raised the issue with Chinese leader Xi Jinping during their recent meeting at the APEC summit. The Australian prime minister emphasized that Australia has raised these concerns with China unequivocally, asserting that there is no misunderstanding about Australia’s view on the matter.
The incident comes a week after Albanese’s landmark visit to Beijing, the first trip by an Australian leader in seven years, aimed at improving bilateral relations. In response to questions about the incident potentially impacting bilateral relations, Albanese emphasized that Australia disagrees with China’s actions and has the strongest objection. He stated that such events should not occur and reiterated Australia’s commitment to cooperating where possible but also expressing disagreement when necessary.
Australia’s Defense Minister Richard Marles issued a statement, explaining that the Australian government had expressed “serious concerns” to the Chinese government over what it deemed an “unsafe and unprofessional” interaction with a People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA Navy) destroyer. Medical assessments found the divers had sustained minor injuries, likely due to exposure to sonar pulses from the Chinese destroyer.
China’s Foreign Ministry responded to the incident, stating that the Chinese military has always operated professionally based on international law and practices. The ministry called for relevant parties to stop causing troubles at China’s doorstep and work together to safeguard the momentum of improving China-Australia relations.
The incident highlights the complexities in diplomatic relations between Australia and China, especially given recent efforts to stabilize ties. Australia expects all countries, including China, to operate their militaries professionally and safely. The situation may pose challenges in maintaining a cooperative relationship between the two nations, and how both governments handle the aftermath will likely influence the trajectory of their diplomatic interactions in the near future.