Australia won't abandon S. China Sea patrols after encounter




 

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) - Australia's prime minister said his country has a "perfect right" to traverse the South China Sea after a media report Friday that the Chinese navy challenged three Australian warships in the hotly contested waterway.

The Chinese "challenged" two Australian frigates and an oil replenishment ship this month as the Australian vessels were sailing to Vietnam, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported, citing anonymous defense officials.

It is not clear what took place during the encounter while China was conducting its largest ever naval exercises in the region.

China's Defense Ministry defended its navy's actions, saying the report "does not conform with the facts."

On April 15, ships from the Chinese and Australian navies "encountered each other in the South China Sea," it said in a statement. "The Chinese ships employed professional language in communicating with the Australian side, operated legally and according to regulation, professionally and safely," the statement said.

No details were given about what was communicated during the exchange or if any other actions were taken.

China claims virtually the entire South China Sea and has built several islands to bolster its position in the waterway where other governments have competing claims and which is one of the world's busiest sea lanes.

Australia has resisted pressure from the United States, its most important defense ally, to challenge the Chinese territorial zones, which are not recognized by international law. U.S. Navy vessels regularly sail close to Chinese-built features that include military installations, drawing protests from Beijing.

"We maintain and practice the right of freedom of navigation and overflight throughout the world and, in this context, we're talking about naval vessels on the world's oceans, including the South China Sea, as is our perfect right in accordance with international law," Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said. He did not comment on the specific incident when questioned by reporters in London.

The Defense Department said it did not provide operational details related to ships transiting the South China Sea. But it confirmed the three warships had arrived in Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday. They are making a three-day goodwill visit to Vietnam.

Neil James, executive director of the Australian Defense Association, a security policy think-tank, said the first aspect of such a challenge was usually a radio warning that the Australians were in Chinese territorial waters and a demand for identification. The Australians would have replied that they were in international waters.

The next levels of challenge involve sending an aircraft and ship to investigate.

"It just escalates. Eventually if they're in your territorial waters and they're not meant to be there, you might fire a shot across their bows - but no one has done that for years, apart from the North Koreans," James said.

Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, has invited Australia to mount joint naval patrols in the South China Sea and has described China as "a disruptive transnational force."

President Donald Trump has nominated the outspoken critic of China as the next U.S. ambassador to Australia.

___

Associated Press writer Christopher Bodeen in Beijing contributed to this report.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Canada frees CFO of China
Canada frees CFO of China's Huawei on bail; Trump might intervene

A top executive of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd was granted bail by a Canadian court on Tuesday, 10 days after her arrest in Vancouver at the request of U.S. authorities sparked a diplomatic dispute. Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer and the daughter of its founder

Beijing detains Canadian as Huawei tensions soar over exec arrest
Beijing detains Canadian as Huawei tensions soar over exec arrest
  • World
  • 2018-12-11 21:50:21Z

A Canadian national was confirmed as being held in China on Tuesday, intensifying a diplomatic stand-off over the arrest of a top executive of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, as a judge in Vancouver considered her bail application. Michael Korvig, a former diplomat who served in Beijing, was reported as having been detained as Meng Wanzhou was due in court for a bail hearing on US charges of violating Iran sanctions.

Congress grills Google CEO on bias, privacy, China
Congress grills Google CEO on bias, privacy, China

Questions on privacy, data collection, China, Russia -and especially political bias - dominated Google CEO Sundar Pichai's grilling before Congress Tuesday. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy opened the House Judiciary Committee hearing by noting a "widening gap of distrust" between

Former Canadian diplomat detained in China: sources
Former Canadian diplomat detained in China: sources

Michael Kovrig's detention comes after police in Canada arrested the chief financial officer of China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] on Dec. 1 at the request of U.S. authorities, a move that has infuriated Beijing. It was not immediately clear if the cases were related, but the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver has stoked fears of reprisals against the foreign business community in China. "International Crisis Group is aware of reports that its North East Asia Senior Adviser, Michael Kovrig, has been detained in China," the think-tank said in a statement.

Asian shares mixed on concerns over trade, economic outlook
Asian shares mixed on concerns over trade, economic outlook

Asian markets were mixed Tuesday in narrow trading on doubts that U.S. and China can manage to resolve their festering trade dispute. WALL STREET: Buying of technology companies spurred gains for U.S. indexes after steep losses in early trading. China has protested the detention of a Chinese technology executive in Canada, which was carried out at the request of the U.S. The S&P 500 index rose 0.2 percent to 2,637.72 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.1 percent to 24,423.26.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.