Australia on Sunday, June 5, said that China’s J-16 fighter jet intercepted their P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft over the South China Sea region on May 26. The Australian Defence Ministry in the statement said that China’s interception resulted in a “dangerous manoeuvre” which posed a threat to the P-8 aircraft and its crew. The Australian government has voiced their concerns with the Chinese administration.
“Defence advises that on 26 May 2022, a RAAF P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft was intercepted by a Chinese J-16 fighter aircraft during a routine maritime surveillance activity in international airspace in the South China Sea region,” Australian Defence Ministry said in a statement.
According to the statement issued by the Australian Defence Ministry, the Chinese fighter jet intercepted Australia’s RAAF P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft during a routine maritime activity in international airspace over the South China Sea region. The Australian Defence ministry stated that the country has been carrying out maritime surveillance activities over the South China Sea region for years according to the international law and “exercising the right to freedom of navigation and overflight in international waters and airspace.”
Chinese fighter jet ‘flew very close’ to P-8 surveillance aircraft: Defence Min
Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles has said that Chinese aircraft “flew very close” to Australia’s P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft and then “released flares” on May 26, Sky News Australia reported. Marles said that China’s fighter aircraft then accelerated and “cut across the nose” of Australia’s P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft. According to Marles, China’s J-16 fighter aircraft settled at a “very close distance” in front of the P-8. Richard Marles said that China’s fighter jet released chaff which has small pieces of aluminium and “some of which were ingested” in the engine of P-8 aircraft and called the encounter “very dangerous.”
Richard Marles said that the concerns have been raised with China, and they have received a response from Beijing officials. He, however, refused to share details of China’s response, as per the Sky News Australia report. Defending Australia’s actions, Richard Marles said that the Australian crew operated within their rights in international law and added that the South China Sea is important to Australia as most of their trade activities take place through it. Speaking to reporters in Perth, Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese repeated remarks made by the Defence department and added that they have “expressed concerns through appropriate channels.”
“I won’t be making further comment on it, other than to say that in the Australian Government’s view and the Defence Department’s view this was not safe, what occurred, and we’ve made appropriate representations to the Chinese Government expressing our concerns over this,” Australia’s PM Anthony Albanese told reporters.