Australia asserted on Wednesday that its patrol jet was flying in international airspace when it was stopped by a Chinese warplane, which fired a cloud of thin aluminium strips known as chaff.
When asked about a feud between Canberra and Beijing over the May 26 event, which Australia’s government has called as “extremely dangerous,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese answered with a sharp response.
“This happened over international airspace. Stop right there “During a press conference, Albanese stated.
Tan Kefei, a spokesperson for China’s defence ministry, claimed on Tuesday that an Australian P-8A anti-submarine patrol aircraft flew close to the airspace of the disputed Paracel Islands, also known as Xisha in China.
“The Chinese side issued a warning to get it out of there,” Tan claimed.
He charged the Australian jet with endangering China’s sovereignty and security, and the government with disseminating “false information.”
The Chinese plane allegedly cut in front of Australia’s surveillance plane, releasing chaff, some of which was consumed by its engines. Chaff is a type of sand that is used to deceive radar-guided missiles.
After Albanese’s centre-left Labor Party won the May 21 elections, speculation of a thaw in chilly relations between Australia and China faded quickly.
Several days after Albanese’s victory, China’s leader, Li Keqiang, congratulated him.
However, the two countries have since fought over the plane crash and their competing diplomatic and security goals in the South Pacific.
Their relationship has deteriorated in the last two years, as Canberra demanded an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus outbreak and barred Huawei from building Australia’s 5G network.
China, Australia’s largest trading partner, retaliated by putting tariffs on over a dozen major industries, including wine, barley, and coal.