China hits back over Australia’s surveillance jet encounter claims

China hits back over Australia’s surveillance jet encounter claims
Anthony Albanese, leader of Australia’s Labor Party, addresses supporters after incumbent Prime Minister and Liberal Party leader Scott Morrison conceded defeat in the country’s general election, in Sydney, Australia May 21, 2022. REUTERS/Jaimi Joy

Over the weekend, Australia’s Prime Minister Albanese said that a Chinese military jet intercepted an Australian surveillance aircraft while doing a routine check of the South China Sea region. Australia called the move a “dangerous maneuver" and said that it was doing this round of checks of the disputed region while abiding by international laws.

Now, Beijing has hit back, denying this version of events and telling Australia to stop provoking the country or else “bear all the serious consequences." It said that the “response measures taken by the Chinese military are professional, safe, reasonable and legal."

Key comments:

“On May 26, an Australian P-8A anti-submarine patrol aircraft entered the airspace near Xisha, China, and approached the airspace near Xisha, China. It ignored repeated warnings from the Chinese side and continued to approach the airspace of Xisha, China," said the Ministry of National Defense spokesperson Tan Kefei.

Kefei added: “The Southern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army organized naval and air forces to identify and verify the Australian military aircraft, and issued a warning to drive them away. The Australian military plane is a serious threat to China’s sovereignty and security. The response measures taken by the Chinese military are professional, safe, reasonable and legal. The Australian side has turned black and white, repeatedly spread false information, and advocated confrontation. China firmly opposes this. We urge the Australian side to immediately stop such dangerous and provocative actions and strictly restrict the actions of naval and air forces, otherwise it will bear all the serious consequences arising therefrom."

“Defence advises that on 26 May 2022, a RAAF P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft was intercepted by a Chinese J-16 fighter aircraft during a routine maritime surveillance activity in international airspace in the South China Sea region," wrote an Australian Defense statement released on June 5. “The intercept resulted in a dangerous manoeuvre which posed a safety threat to the P-8 aircraft and its crew. The Australian Government has raised its concerns about the incident with the Chinese Government.

“Defence has for decades undertaken maritime surveillance activities in the region and does so in accordance with international law, exercising the right to freedom of navigation and overflight in international waters and airspace," the statement added.