Canberra said China’s naval laser lights up an Australian military aircraft

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A Chinese navy ship beamed a laser beam at an Australian military aircraft as it flew over Australia’s northern entrances, illuminating the aircraft and potentially endangering lives, the Australian defense said on Saturday.

The Ministry of Defense said in a statement that a P-8A Poseidon – a naval patrol aircraft – detected the laser emitted by a People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLA-N) ship.

“The illumination of the aircraft by the Chinese ship is a serious safety incident,” the administration said. “Acts like this can put lives at risk. We strongly condemn unprofessional and unsafe military behaviour.”

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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.

The Defense Ministry said the ships had since passed through the Torres Strait and were in the Coral Sea.

Relations between Australia and China, its largest trading partner, have soured after Canberra banned Huawei Technologies [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.

In 2019, Chinese naval militia ships launched a series of laser attacks on Australian pilots as they flew over the South China Sea, according to a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

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(Reporting by Kirsty Needham). Writing by Lydia Kelly; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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