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Wednesday April 24, 2024

China urges Australia against ‘irresponsible accusations’ over naval sonar claim

By AFP
November 21, 2023
Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC), answers recent media queries concerning the military on the afternoon of August 31, 2023. — mod.gov.cn)
Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), answers recent media queries concerning the military on the afternoon of August 31, 2023. — mod.gov.cn)

BEIJING: Beijing on Monday warned Canberra against making “reckless and irresponsible accusations against China” after Australia said sonar pulses emitted by a Chinese warship “likely” injured its navy divers.

“We urge the Australian side to respect the facts, stop making reckless and irresponsible accusations against China,” defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said, adding China “did not engage in any activities that may have affected the Australian divers”.

Canberra accused Beijing over the weekend of “unsafe and unprofessional” conduct at sea around the HMAS Toowoomba, a long-range frigate that had been supporting United Nations sanctions enforcement efforts within Japan´s exclusive economic zone.

Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles said divers were clearing fishing nets from the ship´s propeller when the vessel was approached by a Chinese destroyer that “likely” injured a number of servicemen with its hull-mounted sonar. Wu said the Australian version of events was “completely inconsistent with the facts”, adding China “firmly opposes this and has made solemn representations to the Australian side”.