Australia wants a “full investigation” into the Chinese laser incident – Morrison

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a Chinese navy ship had directed a laser beam at an Australian defense plane likely to be visible from mainland Australia, as Canberra demanded that Beijing “make a full investigation”.

On the radio on Monday, Morrison said his government had received no explanation from China over the incident last Thursday, which Canberra deemed a “dangerous and reckless act”.

The Australian Defense said on Saturday that a Chinese navy ship within Australia’s exclusive economic zone directed a laser beam at an Australian military aircraft as it flew over Australia’s northern entrances, illuminating the aircraft and potentially endangering lives. Read more

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The Ministry of Defense said a P-8A Poseidon – a naval patrol aircraft – detected a laser beam emanating from a People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLA-N) ship, and released images of two Chinese ships sailing near the northern coast of Australia.

A Chinese guided-missile destroyer and amphibious transport dock was sailing east across the Aravura Sea between New Guinea and Australia at the time of the accident, after which it passed through the narrow Torres Strait.

“People will probably see the ship from the mainland,” Morrison told reporters in Tasmania on Monday.

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He said on local radio that Australia had called through diplomatic and defense channels for a “full investigation into this event”.

He likened the incident to a hypothetical situation of an Australian frigate that pointed a laser at a Chinese reconnaissance plane in the Taiwan Strait, adding: “Can you imagine their reaction to that in Beijing?”

The Chinese embassy in Canberra did not respond to a request for comment. Beijing has not publicly commented on the incident.

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(Reporting by Kirsty Needham). Lincoln Fest Editing.

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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