Peter Dutton slams ‘bullying’ Beijing

Defense confirmed a Chinese vessel targeted Australian aircraft with a laser which has been condemned as unprofessional and unsafe military conduct.
Defense confirmed a Chinese vessel targeted Australian aircraft with a laser which has been condemned as unprofessional and unsafe military conduct.

Defense Minister Peter Dutton has slammed China for “bullying” after one of their naval vessels targeted an Australian aircraft with a laser.

The Australian Defense Force said the aircraft detected the laser from a Chinese vessel on Thursday while it was flying along Australia’s northern approaches.

On Sunday morning Mr Dutton said it was important to “shine a light” on this behaviour.

Defense Minister Peter Dutton slammed the Chinese for 'bullying' after a navy vessel pointed a laser at an Australian aircraft.  Photo: Mandel NGAN / AFP
Defense Minister Peter Dutton slammed the Chinese for ‘bullying’ after a navy vessel pointed a laser at an Australian aircraft. Photo: Mandel NGAN / AFP

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“I think the Chinese government is hoping that nobody talks about these aggressive, bullying acts,” Mr Dutton told Sky News.

He said it was “completely unacceptable” and could have left crew-members blind and damaged equipment.

“It’s a very aggressive act and that’s why it’s right that we call it out,” the minister said.

The Chinese vessel, in company with another People’s Liberation Army – Navy (PLA-N) ship, was sailing east through the Arafura Sea, located between Northern Australia and Western New Guinea, at the time of the incident.

A photo of the People's Liberation Army- guided missile destroyer involved in a laser incident with an RAAF P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
A photo of the People’s Liberation Army- guided missile destroyer involved in a laser incident with an RAAF P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.

The ADF slammed the act as “unprofessional and unsafe” military conduct in a statement.

“Such actions are not in keeping with the standards we expect of professional militaries.”

A laser used on RAAF aircraft close to the Australian mainland is an escalation of tension between the Chinese navy and Australia’s armed forces.

The last time a PLA warship used a military-grade laser against an RAAF aircraft was in a 2019 incident involving a helicopter on exercises in the South China Sea.

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Caroline Schelle has covered courts, crime and breaking news in Melbourne since 2014. Cutting her teeth with a News Corp cadetship, she spent several years honing her skills at Leader newspapers before moving t… Read more

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