Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the Chinese navy did something dangerous and unprofessional in international waters near Japan. This could cause problems between Australia and China, especially since Albanese recently visited China to try to improve their relationship.
Australian divers on the ship HMAS Toowoomba were trying to remove fishing nets from the propellers when a Chinese destroyer came close, said Defense Minister Richard Marles in a statement on Saturday.
Even though they were told not to, the Chinese destroyer used their sonar while Australian divers were in the water, putting their safety at risk.
The divers had some small injuries, according to medical checks.
During an interview on Sky News, Albanese said he was very worried about the incident. He also said that one person got hurt because of what China did.
“I want you to know that we brought up these problems in the right way and very clearly, without any doubt. ” He said Australia’s view on this is clear to China, there is no confusion.
When reporters asked about what happened at a news conference on Monday, a person who speaks for the Chinese government said that the Chinese military is very well behaved and always follows the rules of international law and practices.
“We want everyone involved to stop making problems near China and to work with China to protect the progress of China-Australia relations,” said spokesperson Mao Ning.
The incident happened one week after Albanese visited Beijing. It was the first time an Australian leader had visited in seven years. This visit was to make relations between the two countries better after years of economic problems.
During the Sky News interview, Albanese avoided answering a question about whether the incident will cause problems in the relationship between the two countries.
And this is one of those times when we don’t agree with what China is doing,” Albanese said.
“We’ve said we don’t agree with what happened, we really don’t like it, and we don’t want it to happen again. ”
‘Bad and not professional’ interaction
Marles said on Saturday that the Australian government told the Chinese government it was very worried about a dangerous interaction with a Chinese navy ship.
Medical exams showed that the divers had minor injuries probably because of the sonar pulses from the Chinese destroyer.
Warships use sonar to find and locate things under water. People who dive and hear a lot of noise underwater can get dizzy, hurt their hearing, or damage other sensitive parts of their body. It depends on how often they hear the noise and how loud it is. This information comes from the Diving Medical Advisory Committee in London.
The HMAS Toowoomba was in Japan’s area doing work for the United Nations. It was on its way to Japan for a visit. This information comes from Marles’ statement.
“The military has been doing surveillance in the ocean for a long time, following the rules of international law. They have the right to travel freely in international waters and airspace. ”
The US and Canadian militaries say that China’s navy and air forces have been doing dangerous things when they come near each other in the East and South China seas. This has happened many times in the past few months.
In response, China said Canada did bad things in the South China Sea.
Ray Powell, who is in charge of SeaLight at the Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation at Stanford University, said it’s unlikely we’ll ever know if the order to use the sonar came from commanders in Beijing or from someone lower down, like the captain of the Chinese destroyer.
“Both options are concerning. The first one suggests lying among top leaders, and the second suggests a culture of dishonesty in the military,” said Powell, who used to work in the US Air Force.
“If the roles were switched, it’s likely that an Australian navy leader who did the same thing would be removed from their position or even punished. ” But nobody thinks that Beijing is even thinking about taking such action,” Powell said.