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Australia today expressed serious concern over what it said was an “unprofessional interaction” between a Chinese warship and Australian divers earlier this week, which it blamed on the Chinese side, when several divers were slightly injured.
Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles said the incident occurred on Tuesday when an Australian long-range frigate was conducting diving operations to clean its propellers in international waters inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, Kyodo reported.
Marles said a Chinese destroyer operating nearby approached the Australian ship and began using its sonar detection system, despite the frigate signaling its intention to conduct diving operations and demanding that the ship stay away.
Marles said the sonar was used “in a way that posed a safety risk to the Australian divers who were forced out of the water” and that they suffered minor injuries likely caused by the sonar pulses.
“Australia expects all countries, including China, to manage their militaries in a professional and safe manner,” Marles said.
The incident occurred less than two weeks after Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visited China, the first visit by an Australian leader to Beijing in seven years.