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China spin on warplane flare up rejected by Australia

China plane incident

Source: Peter Dutton

Australia has rejected China’s account of an incident between a warplane and navy helicopter, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese saying there was “no question” defence personnel were in the right.

An Australian navy helicopter was forced to take evasive action after a Chinese air force plane launched flares closely ahead of it over the Yellow Sea on Saturday.

Australia and the US have branded the incident as unsafe and unprofessional, with Canberra raising its objections through diplomatic channels.

China dismissed the concerns, with foreign ministry spokesman Lin Jian asserting “the Australian military aircraft flew near China airspace in a threatening way”.

The flares were a warning to the Australians, he said.

But Albanse said Beijing’s explanation wasn’t satisfactory.

“There’s no question that the Australian Defence Force personnel were both in international waters and in international airspace,” he said in Perth on Wednesday.

Australia had conveyed its concerns to China’s ambassador, Albanese said.

The opposition has supported the government’s position, saying it’s entirely appropriate for Australian vessels to be active in international waters.

“It was not only not in China’s territorial waters, it wasn’t even in China’s exclusive economic zone,” home affairs spokesman James Paterson told ABC radio.

“It appears to be way out of the bounds of behaviour from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force.”

Paterson also wants the government to go further in its language.

“These are incredibly dangerous things and the government’s been describing them as unprofessional. I don’t think unprofessional cuts it,” he said.

“This is far worse than unprofessional because it’s done with malign intent. It’s done with intent to intimidate. It’s done with intent to coerce and we shouldn’t tolerate that.”

– AAP

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