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Aussie PM Albanese fires back in China sonar pulse tit-for-tat

Author
AAP,
Publish Date
Wed, 22 Nov 2023, 4:50PM
Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese recently met with China's President Xi Jinping. Photo / AP
Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese recently met with China's President Xi Jinping. Photo / AP

Aussie PM Albanese fires back in China sonar pulse tit-for-tat

Author
AAP,
Publish Date
Wed, 22 Nov 2023, 4:50PM

Australia doesn’t accept China’s denial of a sonar pulse attack carried out off the coast of Japan last Tuesday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says.

Albanese is staring down China and its denial a destroyer set off sonar pulses and injured Australian navy divers.

Several divers from HMAS Toowoomba were in the water off the coast of Japan last Tuesday when a Chinese destroyer engaged in the “unsafe and unprofessional interaction”, the Australian government says.

That charge has been slapped down by China, which has labelled Australia’s side of the story as “completely inconsistent with the facts” while declaring it was always a “safe distance” away.

Albanese dismissed that statement today when asked if he believed China had carried out the attack.

“I know they did,” he told Fox FM.

“The Australian Defence Force and the Navy, we don’t put out a statement like that without checking it all … it was a dangerous thing to happen and it shouldn’t have.”

The prime minister, who met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Apec summit in the US last week and who has been desperate to improve Australia’s relationship with China, appeared nonplussed by the denial.

“They always push back. We’ve said we’ll disagree where we must and we have a disagreement here,” he said.

The divers suffered minor injuries to their ears, despite the Australian ship warning others they were in the area.

“The safety and wellbeing of Australian defence personnel is our utmost priority,” Foreign Minister Penny Wong said at a press conference with her Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in New Delhi yesterday.

“We have raised our serious concerns with the Chinese authorities following what we regard as unsafe and unprofessional interaction with the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] navy destroyer.”

China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told reporters the country always acted in accordance with international law and practice.

Australia should “stop making trouble in front of China’s doorsteps and work with China to preserve the momentum of improving and growing China-Australia ties”, she said.

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