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Australia accuses China of committing an “act of intimidation” after pointing a laser at aircraft

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison accused Beijing of an “act of intimidation” after a Chinese navy ship beamed lasers at an Australian military surveillance plane last week.

A P-8A Poseidon naval patrol aircraft was lit Thursday as it flew over Australia’s northern approaches by a laser from a People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLA-N) ship, potentially endangering lives, the Ministry of Defense said. Read more

Morrison said his government would demand answers from Beijing.

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“I can’t see it in any other way than an act of intimidation… an unjustified and unjustified act,” Morrison told a news briefing. Australia will never accept such acts of intimidation.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media at the Commonwealth Parliament Office in Melbourne, in Melbourne, Australia, February 11, 2022. Darrian Traynor/Pool via REUTERS
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media at the Commonwealth Parliament Office in Melbourne, in Melbourne, Australia, February 11, 2022. Darrian Traynor/Pool via REUTERS

Defense Secretary Peter Dutton described the incident as a “very aggressive act” that occurred in Australia’s exclusive economic zone.

“I think the Chinese government hopes that no one will talk about these aggressive acts of bullying,” Dutton told Sky News television. “We are seeing different forms of it across the region and in many parts of the world.”

The administration said the Chinese ship was sailing eastward with another PLA ship across the Arafura Sea at the time of the accident. The sea is located between the northern coast of Australia and the southern coast of New Guinea.

Relations between Australia and China, its biggest trading partner, have soured after Canberra banned Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [RIC:RIC:HWT.UL] From its 5G broadband network in 2018, it toughened laws against foreign political interference, and urged an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

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(Reporting by Lydia Kelly) Editing by Jonathan Otis

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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