Expert warns of ‘closest attempt at military intimidation by China’ in Australian waters
An expert has warned that China’s firing of a laser into Australian waters was a sign of a deliberate military act as tensions erupt.
A defense expert has warned that China’s firing of a laser into Australian waters was the closest act of military intimidation to our shores as tensions between the two countries escalate.
The Australian Department of Defense reported that a laser emanating from a People’s Liberation Army vessel illuminated a P-8A Poseidon surveillance plane last Thursday.
The Chinese vessel, along with another People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLA-N) vessel, was sailing east through the Arafura Sea, located between northern Australia and Australia. western New Guinea at the time of the incident.
At the time of the incident, the aircraft was in Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), off the country’s Top End.
Professor John Blaxland of the ANU Center for Strategic and Defense Studies wrote in an article for The conversation that while China has done it before in Australia and the United States in the South China Sea, it has never been closer to home.
“From what we can determine, this is the closest Chinese military intimidation attempt to reach our shores.
“Nor is it a tactic known to have been used by Australia against warships of other nations, especially not near or in China’s exclusive economic zone. So that seems like an escalation.
The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea with a limit of 200 nautical miles.
According to the Federal Government, “In the EEZ, Australia has sovereign rights to explore and exploit, conserve and manage all natural resources of the waters superjacent to the seabed and of the seabed and its underground as well as other activities such as the production of energy from water, currents and wind.
“Jurisdiction also extends to the creation and use of artificial islands, installations and structures, marine scientific research, protection and preservation of the marine environment and other rights and duties.”
It is one of the largest in the world with a total marine area of around 10 million square kilometres, considerably larger than the 7.69 million square kilometers of the Australian mainland.
In addition to the EEZ, Australia has jurisdiction over its territorial seas and contiguous zones, both of which are internationally recognized definitions of maritime boundaries.
Prof Blaxland told ABC Drive’s Richard Glover that while Australia has less authority over what China might do beyond the 12 nautical mile limit, or territorial sea, pointing a laser is a “harbinger of war”.
“In the military context, this type of laser designation relates to the precursory act of a hostile missile fire or some sort of trajectory of a bullet or a machine gun or a pistol,” a- he declared.
“Let’s face it, this is exactly the precursor to an act of war.
“It’s intimidating behavior and it’s designed to piss off the pilots of this aircraft.
“It’s like you know you’re a hair’s breadth away from being shot out of the sky. It’s pretty intimidating behavior, there’s no doubt about it.
Professor Blaxland warned that this was not China’s first “hostile act” and warned of the consequences of such a laser hitting a target.
“They have the right to operate their weapon systems and all their radar systems, but in fact choosing to point a laser at an Australian aircraft is a hostile act,” he said of China.
“This is industrial grade laser pointing, nothing like you get in classrooms.
“It’s something that will completely blind someone. Not only will it blind a human if they look at it at the wrong time, in the wrong place, but it will also damage some of the important sensors on the plane.
“It can have potentially catastrophic effects on the aircraft itself…so it’s not a benign act, it’s genuinely contradictory behavior, it’s not appropriate.”
Federal Defense Minister Peter Dutton confirmed the attack had the potential to endanger Australian lives and said the behavior came as no surprise from China.
“The acts of aggression we see in the East China Sea against Japan by the Chinese government, the acts of aggression we see in the Indo-China land border against India, there is a pattern of behavior here and the pattern of behavior is… consistently bad from the Chinese government,” he added.
China says Aussie claims ‘fake’
China has hit back at the claims, implying that the prime minister used the incident as an excuse to throw mud at Beijing and that the incident is “untrue”.
Scott Morrison said on Monday the act was reckless for “what is supposed to be a professional defense force”.
But Beijing now claims the Chinese warship was in international waters and it was in fact the Australian plane that was acting dangerously.
“According to what we have checked and verified with the relevant department on the Chinese side, the information released by the Australian side is false,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a press conference in Beijing. .
“The normal navigation of Chinese vessels on the high seas is in accordance with international law and international practice and completely legal and legitimate.
“We urge Australia to respect the legitimate rights that Chinese vessels are entitled to in relevant waters under international law and to stop maliciously spreading China-related disinformation.”
Shadow Defense Minister Brendan O’Connor told ABC Afternoon briefing that the Labor Party condemns China’s actions and awaits further information from Mr. Dutton and the ADF.
It is believed Shadow Foreign Secretary Penny Wong and Mr O’Connor will be involved in the briefings.
“Certainly, from the beginning we have said that we must do everything possible to maintain peace and stability in the region,” Mr O’Connor said.
“We must be frank and clear that such aggression is unacceptable.”
— with NewsWire