Australia-China relations have soured in recent years as decoupling continues. Last week, the latest rumblings between the two nations occurred when a Chinese warship targeted an Australian spy plane with a laser, according to CNN.

Economically, Australia has supplied China’s industries with commodities for decades. However, when the Australian government led an international call for the inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, in 2020, Beijing became furious. It slapped anti-dumping duties on Australian barley and other products. Chinese importers were forced to stop purchasing Australian coal, liquefied natural gas, and other commodities.

A growing trade rift has morphed into a geopolitical crisis between Canberra and Beijing in the Indo-Pacific area. Tensions jumped Thursday when Canberra said a People’s Liberation Army warship targeted an Australian P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft with a laser. Canberra called the incident an “act of intimidation.”

On Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the incident “dangerous” and “reckless.”

“This was dangerous, it was unprofessional and it was reckless for a professional navy, and we want some answers as to why they did this. At worst, it was intimidating and bullying.

“They’re the ones who need to explain, not just to Australia, but to think of all the countries in our region. It could occur to anyone else who is just simply doing the normal surveillance of their own Exclusive Economic Zone,” Morrison said. 

Morrison has yet to hear from Chinese defense officials about the incident though China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the vessel abided by international law.

“After checking with relevant Chinese authorities, the information released by the Australian side is not true. The normal navigation of the Chinese ship on the high seas conforms to relevant international law and practice and is completely legitimate and lawful.

“We urge the Australian side to respect the legitimate rights of Chinese vessels in relevant waters in accordance with international law and stop maliciously spreading false information about China,” Wenbin said.

State-run tabloid the Global Times even flipped the script and accused Canberra of trying to damage Beijing’s maritime reputation.

“The Australian military knowingly hyped this with the aim of throwing mud at China,” the article said.

This isn’t the first time China’s military has used lasers against aircraft. In 2018, the Pentagon notified all U.S. airmen operating in Djibouti to be careful of lasers directed at them by military personnel at a Chinese base in the African country. There have been numerous incidents of U.S. airmen targeted by Chinese lasers in the western Pacific Ocean.

The latest encounter comes as the world is concentrated on the crisis in Ukraine and whether Russia will invade. There are hopes for a diplomatic resolution.

Republished from with permission

Sign up on or to check out our store on