A Chinese fighter jet dangerously intercepted an Australian military surveillance plane in the South China Sea region in May, the Australian Department of Defense said on Sunday.
The Royal Australian Air Force 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 region on May 26, the defense said in a statement.
“The interception resulted in a dangerous maneuver that posed a threat to the safety of the P-8 aircraft and its crew,” he said.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters in Perth that his government had raised its concerns with China “through the appropriate channels”.
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The Chinese Embassy in Australia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Defense Minister Richard Marles said the Chinese plane flew very close to the RAAF plane and dropped a ‘chaff packet’ containing small pieces of aluminum which were ingested into the engine of the Australian aircraft.
“Obviously it’s very dangerous,” Marles told ABC television.
Australia has already joined the United States in saying China’s claims around the disputed South China Sea islands do not comply with international law.
The Defense said for decades it had undertaken maritime surveillance 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”.
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Relations between Australia and China, major trading partners, have recently been strained due to China’s growing influence in the Pacific after China sought a regional security agreement with Pacific island nations.
Also in May, a Chinese intelligence vessel was spotted off Australia’s west coast within 50 nautical miles of a sensitive defense installation, used by Australian, US and allied submarines.
In February, China and Australia exchanged comments on an incident in which Australia said one of its maritime patrol aircraft detected a laser aimed at it from an Army Navy vessel. popular liberation.
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