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China slams Australia for ‘maliciously’ spreading info over laser incident involving PLA ship

Canberra alleges that its P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft was targeted by a laser from a Chinese navy vessel in the Arafura Sea on 17 February. The sea is located off Australia’s northern coast, between its Northern Territory and the Indonesian province of Papua.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has rejected Australia’s accusation that a Navy vessel belonging to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA-N) aimed a laser at a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) plane last week.

Responding to Canberra’s accusations, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a press briefing on Monday that Canberra’s charge didn’t “square with facts”.

Wang also urged Australia to “stop maliciously spreading such information”.

The remarks by the Chinese official came only hours after Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, demanded a “full investigation” into last week’s incident, as reported by the Australian Defence Department on Saturday, 19 February.

Canberra has backed up its claims by releasing images of PLA-N’s Luyang-class guided missile destroyer and Yuzhao-class amphibious transport dock vessel doing rounds of the waters off Australia’s northern coast.
The Australian prime minister said that the alleged firing of a laser at the RAAF’s P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft by a Chinese naval vessel had “endangered” the lives of Australian defence personnel on board at the time.
Chinese state media has also accused Canberra of “false mud-throwing” over the incident.
Chinese experts quoted by Global Times – a daily tabloid published by the Chinese Communist Party – claimed that it was the Australian aircraft which had first “conducted a close-in reconnaissance on the Chinese warships”.

“Australia has neglected to tell the public how close its aircraft flew to the Chinese vessels, so people could not tell whether the Chinese ships were forced to take defensive countermeasures,” remarked Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator.

The expert also noted that every modern warship these days is equipped with a laser range finder, which could be employed to measure distance.

“They are also used for civilian purposes and are of little danger,” Global Times quoted another expert as saying.

Source: Sputnik