Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has declared a laser incident involving a Royal Australian Air Force aircraft last week is an “act of intimidation” by China, the Guardian reported.
Australia’s defence department reported a laser emanating from a People’s Liberation Army Navy vessel illuminated a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft last Thursday when the Chinese ship was sailing east through the Arafura sea, the report said.
On Sunday, Morrison characterised the episode as “a reckless and irresponsible act that should not have occurred”.
The February 17 incident in waters to the north of Australia followed days of domestic political contention about national security.
Morrison said Australia would be “making our views very clear” to the Chinese government through defence and diplomatic channels. Morrison said China needed to provide an explanation “as to why a military vessel in Australia’s exclusive economic zone would undertake such an act such a dangerous act”, the report added.
“I can see it no other way than an act of intimidation, one that was unprovoked, unwarranted,” Morrison told reporters on Sunday.
“Australia will never accept such acts of intimidation.”
With a federal election looming, Morrison is attempting to paint his political opponents as being weak on national security, and has declared the authoritarian regime in Beijing wants opposition Labor to replace the Coalition in the coming contest.