‘Unsafe & unacceptable:’ Australia protests Chinese actions in international waters

NEW DELH: Australia on Monday protested that a Chinese fighter jet endangered those aboard an Australian military helicopter by dropping flares dangerously close to it during an ‘unsafe’ and ‘unacceptable’ confrontation over the Yellow Sea last week.
The incident reportedly took place on a Saturday.
A Chinese air force J-10 jet released flares above and a few hundred meters in front of an Australian MH60R Seahawk helicopter.
The helicopter was conducting a routine flight in the Yellow Sea as part of an operation to enforce sanctions against North Korea.
The helicopter, flying from destroyer HMAS Hobart, took evasive action and dodged the flares, but the possible impact of being hit would have been “significant,” defence minister Richard Marles said in a statement.
“This is a very serious incident, it was unsafe and it is completely unacceptable,” he said.
“We have formally expressed our concerns about this incident, and formally expressed that this was both unsafe and unprofessional.”
The incident endangered the aircraft and passengers on board, although , no one was injured, said Australia’s defence ministry in the statement.
The statement said the Chinese aircraft “released flares along the flight path of the Australian defence force (ADF) helicopter. This was an unsafe manoeuvre which posed a risk to the aircraft and personnel.”
Marles called the incident “both unsafe and unprofessional”. He had applied the same description to the November 2023 encounter between HMAS Toowoomba and a People’s Liberation Army navy destroyer.
Australia mentioned that it has been taking part in missions to uphold sanctions against North Korea in the region since 2018. The HMAS Hobart is still active in the area.
(with input from agency)

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