Australian PM terms China laser incident "intimidation"

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks at the top of a meeting of Australian, US, India and Japan foreign ministers at the Melbourne Commonwealth Parliament Offices in Melbourne on February 11, 2022.

Sydney, Australia | Australia's prime minister accused China of an "act of intimidation" on Sunday after Canberra said a Chinese naval vessel shone a laser at one of the country's defence aircraft.

The ship was one of two Chinese navy vessels sailing through waters off Australia's northern coast on Thursday when it illuminated a surveillance aircraft in an incident that had "the potential to endanger lives," the defence department said.

"I can see it no other way than an act of intimidation," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, terming the act "unwarranted and unprovoked".

Australia's Defence Minister Peter Dutton echoed his concerns, saying it was "a very aggressive act".

"I think the Chinese government is hoping that nobody talks about these aggressive bullying acts," Dutton told Sky News on Sunday.

According to the defence ministry, the ships were sailing east through the Arafura Sea, just north of Australia. 

The Chinese government has not responded to the allegations from Australia.

China last faced accusations of targeting Australian aircraft using military-grade lasers in 2019, when Australian Defence Force helicopters were illuminated over the South China Sea.

© Agence France-Presse

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