Chinese fighter jet slammed for ‘dangerous’ move near Australian surveillance plane

Australia says it voiced its concerns to Beijing ‘through appropriate channels’

Emily Atkinson
Sunday 05 June 2022 16:17 BST
A Chinese pilot was accused of cutting in front of the Australian surveillance plane
A Chinese pilot was accused of cutting in front of the Australian surveillance plane (Getty Images)

Australian authorities have accused a Chinese fighter jet pilot of executing a “dangerous manoeuvre” near one of its surveillance planes on the South China Sea.

Prime minister Anthony Albanese said the Royal Australian Air Force P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft was intercepted by a Chinese J-16 fighter during “routine maritime surveillance activity” in international airspace in the region on 26 May.

The Chinese aircraft reportedly released flares and cut in front of the Australian surveillance plane.

“The intercept resulted in a dangerous manoeuvre which posed a safety threat to the P-8 aircraft and its crew,” Albanese said, adding that his government had expressed concerns to Beijing “through appropriate channels”.

Defence minister Richard Marles said the Chinese aircraft flew very close in front of the RAAF aircraft and released a “bundle of chaff” containing small pieces of aluminium that were ingested into the Australian aircraft’s engine.

“Quite obviously this is very dangerous,” he told ABC.

Australia has previously stated alongside the US that China’s claims around contested islands in the South China Sea do not comply with international law.

In a statement, Australia’s defence ministry said that, for decades, it had undertaken maritime surveillance in the region and “does so in accordance with international law, exercising the right to freedom of navigation and overflight in international waters and airspace”.

China has not commented on the accusations.

Swelling Chinese influence in the Pacific in recent years, which has come as a result of it seeking a regional security deal with Pacific Island nations, has seen its relationship with Australia grow increasingly strained.

It comes after Australia accused a People’s Liberation Army Navy vessel of directing a laser at one of its maritime patrol aircraft in February.

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