Beijing contacted over South China Sea ‘dangerous manoeuvre’

By Anna Macdonald

June 6, 2022

Anthony Albanese
Prime minister Anthony Albanese promised a CDC. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Amid concerns about China’s influence in the Pacific, Defence has reported an interception of an Australian aircraft by a Chinese aircraft during what China described as routine surveillance in the South China Sea region.

The department has described it as a ‘dangerous manoeuvre’ that put the crew of the RAAF P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft in danger by a Chinese J-16 fighter aircraft.

“Defence has, for decades, undertaken maritime surveillance activities in the region and does so in accordance with international law, exercising the right to freedom of navigation and overflight in international waters and airspace,” a Defence statement reads.

During a press conference, prime minister Anthony Albanese said the government has been in touch with Beijing about what took place. 

“We are concerned about this incident. We have expressed those concerns through appropriate channels. I won’t make any further comment on it,” Albanese said. 

The news comes as Albanese is in Indonesia for his first visit to the nation, accompanied by foreign minister Penny Wong. Wong has emphasised working with Australia’s neigbours, with the previous government’s diplomacy with the Solomon Islands a major election topic

When asked about concerns about tensions in the region, Wong said respectful collaboration was key. 

“I think everyone understands we live in a time where the region is being reshaped and what is important is that countries work together to ensure that region remains peaceful, prosperous and respectful of sovereignty,” Wong said, as reported in The Guardian

In Australia, defence minister Richard Marles has said the incident will not prevent Australia from continuing its activites in the South China Sea.

“This incident will not deter Australia from continuing to engage in these activities, which are within our rights at international law, to ensure that there is freedom of navigation in the South China Sea because that is fundamentally in our nation’s interests,” Marles told the ABC

The South China Sea region is territorially disputed, with China building islands in order to lay claim to the area. The region is a major shipping channel, connecting the Pacific and Indian oceans, and contains resources such as oil, gas, and fish. 


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