Australia on Saturday claimed that its naval personnel have received minor injuries after being subjected to sonar pulses from a Chinese warship in international waters near Japan.
In a statement, Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Richard Marles said Canberra expressed its serious concern to Beijing over the “unsafe and unprofessional interaction with a People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLA-N) destroyer.”
The incident occurred Tuesday when the Australian long-range frigate HMAS Toowoomba was in international waters inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone en route to a scheduled port visit.
“HMAS Toowoomba had been in the region conducting operations in support of United Nations sanctions enforcement. It had stopped to conduct diving operations in order to clear fishing nets that had become entangled around its propellers,” said Marles.
He added that the Australian vessel conveyed its intention to conduct diving operations on normal maritime channels, and using internationally recognized signals and requested the ship keep clear.
“Despite acknowledging Toowoomba’s communications, the Chinese vessel approached at a closer range. Soon after, it was detected operating its hull-mounted sonar in a manner that posed a risk to the safety of the Australian divers who were forced to exit the water,” he said and adding: “This is unsafe and unprofessional conduct.”
According to the defense minister, Australian naval personnel sustained minor injuries due to the sonar pulses from the Chinese destroyer.
Marles said Canberra expects all countries, including China, to operate their militaries in a professional and safe manner.
The latest development came amid improvement in Beijing-Canberra ties in recent months following talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.\
Source : aa