As Canberra seeks a “full investigation” by Beijing, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a Chinese navy vessel that pointed a laser at an Australian defence plane was potentially visible from Australia’s mainland.
On Monday, Morrison stated on the radio that the Chinese government had not provided an explanation for the event last Thursday, which Canberra described as a “dangerous and reckless act.”
According to Australia’s defence, a Chinese navy vessel operating within Australia’s exclusive economic zone fired a laser at an Australian military plane in flight over the northern approaches, lighting the plane and potentially endangering lives.
The P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft detected a laser coming from a People’s Liberation Army – Navy (PLA-N) vessel, according to the Defence Department, which also released photos of two Chinese boats traveling near Australia’s northern coast.
At the time of the event, a Chinese guided missile destroyer and an amphibious transport dock were travelling east through the Arafura Sea between New Guinea and Australia, passing via the tight Torres Strait.
“It’s possible that folks on our mainland will be able to view the warship,” Morrison told reporters in Tasmania on Monday.
He told local radio that Australia has requested “a complete probe into this happened” through diplomatic and defense channels.
“Could you imagine their reaction in Beijing if an Australian frigate pointed a laser at Chinese surveillance aircraft in the Taiwan Strait?” he asked, comparing the incident to a hypothetical situation in which an Australian frigate pointed a laser at Chinese surveillance aircraft in the Taiwan Strait.
The Chinese embassy in Canberra did not respond to a request for comment. Beijing has not commented publicly about the incident.