China has warned Australia to cease dangerous provocations near its borders, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Tan Kefei said on Tuesday, after an Australian warplane was intercepted collecting intelligence above a disputed territory in the South China Sea.
Australia’s Department of Defense said on Sunday that an Australian maritime surveillance aircraft was intercepted by a Chinese fighter jet during a routine maritime surveillance activity in international airspace over the South China Sea on May 26.
The Australian ministry described the interception as a “dangerous maneuver which posed a safety threat to the P-8 aircraft and its crew.”
“On May 26, an Australian maritime surveillance aircraft RAAF P-8 entered China’s airspace near the Xisha archipelago for surveillance activities. It ignored the multiple warnings of the Chinese side and continued approaching the airspace of the Xisha archipelago,” Tan said in a statement.
The spokesman noted that the Australian plane “posed a serious threat to sovereignty and security of China,” adding that the actions of the Chinese military were “professional, safe, rational, and lawful.”
China is urging Australia “to immediately stop this kind of dangerous provocative actions and strictly limit the actions of its naval and air forces, otherwise, it will be responsible for all the serious consequences,” Tan said.
A similar incident happened last week when a Chinese fighter jet intercepted a Canadian airplane participating in a United Nations mission to enforce sanctions against North Korea.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the actions of the Chinese military irresponsible and provocative.
China’s actions toward a Canadian airplane participating in a United Nations mission to enforce sanctions against North Korea are “irresponsible and provocative,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters.
“China’s actions are irresponsible and provocative in this case and we will continue to register strongly that they’re putting people at risk, while at the same time not expecting decisions by the United Nations to enforce UN sanctions on North Korea,” Trudeau said during a press conference.
Trudeau reiterated the Canadian government’s accusation that the Chinese aircraft were not following international safety norms and are putting Canadian aircrew at risk.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian, in turn, accused Canada of abusing UN Security Council Resolutions to boost close-up reconnaissance near China.
The Xisha Islands, also known as the Paracel Islands and the Hoang Sa Archipelago, are part of territories disputed among China and several other countries of the region. China and Vietnam claim legal sovereignty over the Xisha islands, but Beijing de facto controls them.
Meanwhile, the United States is concerned about China’s intentions and seeks transparency about its new naval facility project in Cambodia, State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Monday.
The Washington Post reported earlier in the day, citing Western officials, that China is secretly building a naval facility near Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base on the Gulf of Thailand that will be exclusively used for military operations.
“We’ve seen from the PRC [China] that the PRC is engaged in a significant ongoing construction project at Ream Naval Base,” Price said during a press briefing. “As we said, an exclusive PRC military presence at Ream could threaten Cambodia’s autonomy and undermine regional security as well.”
The United States and other countries in the region have expressed concerns about the lack of transparency on China’s intent with this project, including the role China’s military is playing in its construction, and its post-construction use of the facility, Price said.
A Chinese official confirmed to The Washington Post that only a portion of the new naval facility will be used by the Chinese military and denied that it is exclusively for military use, scientists will use it as well. The groundbreaking ceremony for the new naval facility will take place on Thursday, the report said.
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