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China, Australia Trade Barbs Over ‘Dangerous’ Warship Encounter

Australia’s prime minister on Monday criticized China over what he called a “dangerous” encounter between the two countries’ warships in international waters. Beijing denied the allegations.

Speaking to Sky News, Anthony Albanese accused a Chinese naval ship of showing “dangerous, unsafe and unprofessional” behavior in an altercation with an Australian frigate last Tuesday. Albanese declined to confirm if he had raised the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping at an Asian Pacific regional summit last week in San Francisco.

Australia said the Chinese destroyer Ningbo operated its sonar while Australian naval divers were underwater trying to clear fishing nets that had tangled the propellers of their ship, the HMAS Toowoomba.

Albanese added that his government had complained through “all the available forums.”

One diver was injured in the incident, said the premier.

“This is the sort of incident I’ve spoken about…why we need communication and guard rails, and we must avoid reckless events like this. This is why we’ve strongly objected to China,” he added.

China’s Defense Ministry denied the accusation, saying it was “completely inconsistent with the facts.”

“China kept a safe distance from the Australian ship,” the ministry said in a statement on Monday.

Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said the country’s military is always highly disciplined and conducts professional operations in line with international law and practice.

“We hope the relevant party will stop stirring up trouble at China’s doorstep and work with us to jointly sustain the momentum of the improvement and development of China-Australia relations,” Ning told a regular briefing in Beijing on Monday.

China in recent years has often been accused of stoking confrontations in regional waters to assert its maritime dominance.

Source : aa