Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is pushing hard for a “full investigation” into a maritime incident on Feb. 17 that saw a Chinese warship point a military-grade laser at an Australian surveillance plane—a hostile act normally preceding the firing of weapons, according to one defence expert.
The Morrison government has reacted strongly to the incident, which was revealed by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) on the weekend, with the prime minister calling it an “act of intimidation.”
On Feb. 21. Morrison said the government was working through “diplomatic and defence channels” to push for an investigation into the incident.
“For what is supposed to be a professional defence force, this is a dangerous and reckless act. And worse, it can be seen, as I said yesterday, as an act of intimidation and bullying,” he told Radio 2GB. “They were in our exclusive economic zone, and they were pointing a laser at an Australian surveillance aircraft.”
“Could you imagine if that had been an Australian frigate up in the Taiwan Strait or a U.S. vessel or a Japanese, French, German, or UK vessel? And they were pointing lasers at Chinese surveillance aircraft … just as our surveillance aircraft were,” he added.
“Could you imagine their reaction to that in Beijing?”
John Blaxland, defence professor at the Australian National University, explained that lasing a target would often be construed as a hostile act by military personnel.
“Pointing a laser is often referred to as ‘painting a target’ before firing live munitions, such as artillery shells, machine guns or missiles,” he wrote in The Conversation on Feb. 20.
“This is because laser pointing is separated from firing a missile with hostile intent by a mere split second. This can be a nerve-wracking experience for those subjected to such beams,” he added.
Blaxland also explained that laser beams could be damaging to an individual’s eyes, but also to air safety equipment.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy vessel, a Luyang-class, guided missile destroyer, was traversing the seas north of Australia accompanied by another Chinese ship, the Yuzhao-class amphibious transport dock vessel.
During the incident, the vessels were in the Arafura Sea, while legally within Australia’s exclusive economic zone. The laser was fired at a P-8A Poseidon aircraft dispatched to monitor the vessels.
Australia’s Defence Department has responded by shining a spotlight, and the world’s attention, on the Chinese military’s activities, by publicising the incident and providing images of the ships to media outlets.
Morrison meanwhile was questioned during a press conference on why China was named.
“It happened. It is indisputable. It was a Chinese naval vessel,” he told reporters. “It was possible that people could even see the vessel from our mainland, so we disclosed that because this needs to be called out.”
The ADF adopted a similar tactic when Chinese spy ships were sighted off the coast monitoring military exercises.
“It’s an Australian surveillance aircraft this time, what’s next? It’s very important that China explain themselves for this act of recklessness.”
From The Epoch Times