Multiple news outlets reported last Wednesday that Chinese fishing boats aimed lasers at Australian navy helicopter pilots. China’s defense ministry says the reports are “not consistent with the facts”.
Chinese spokesman Wu Qian released a statement at a monthly briefing. The military officer urged Australia to “reflect on itself” before pointing fingers. “According to my knowledge, what you have said is not consistent with the facts,” Wu said.
Geopolitics scholar Euan Graham wrote that the pilots flying the Tiger attack helicopter were hit by lasers while performing aerial exercises over the waters of the South China Sea earlier in May. The alleged attack temporarily grounded the pilots “for precautionary medical reasons” according to Graham. The scholar was riding onboard the Royal Australian Navy flagship HMAS Canberra at the time. The flagship was on a voyage from Vietnam to Singapore.
China’s robust maritime militia is currently maintained in the South China Sea. It is composed of fishing vessels carrying military equipment for carrying out combat missions.
Similar incidents have been reported involving the US last year when the country complained that China directed lasers at an American aircraft. The incident reportedly resulted in minor injuries to the two American pilots flying the aircraft.
Following the complaints, China denied that it’s naval forces targeted the US military aircraft.
According to Graham, China requested Australia to send an advance notice if there are any corrections or changes to their course. The Australian navy reportedly was not willing to cooperate in accordance with exercising its rights to “high-seas freedoms”.