Australian warships 'confronted' by Chinese Navy in disputed South China Sea

WION Web Team
Canberra, Australia Published: Jul 23, 2020, 03:11 PM(IST)

Australian warships in South China Sea Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The incident took place when the Australia's Defence Force joint task group consisting of five ships was travelling through the area on the way to Hawaii for joint military war games with the US and Japan in the Philippine Sea.

Australian warships were reportedly 'confronted' by Chinese Navy in contested South China Sea amid heightened tensions between the two nations.

The incident took place when the Australia's Defence Force joint task group consisting of five ships was travelling through the area on the way to Hawaii for joint military war games with the US and Japan in the Philippine Sea.

While the Australian ships did not come near 12 nautical miles of the disputed islands, they spotted the Chinese Navy near the Spratly Islands, which China claims as its own.

Upon being caught, members of the Chinese Navy allegedly ''confronted'' the Australian ships, according to a report first by news network ABC.

The report was confirmed by a defence spokesperson who said that five Australian warships, HMAS Canberra, Hobart, Stuart, Arunta and Sirius, “transited the South China Sea independently” from 14-18 July, including near the Spratly Islands. They were bound for Hawaii to join a US-led military exercise known as Rimpac.

“As we would expect in response to vessels operating in international waters in accordance with international law, all interactions with foreign warships were handled safely and professionally''.

There were “routine and professional naval communications” and “no confrontation”, the spokesperson added.
The Australian government downplayed the incident by saying ''all interactions with foreign warships throughout the deployment were conducted in a safe and professional manner''.

The report comes after Trump administration toughened its stance on Beijing's maritime claims regarding the South China Sea.

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