Canberra / Beijing – Chinese navy challenged Australian navy’s destroyers en route to Vietnam on a goodwill visit. The incident that happened on 15th of April has recently been brought to the notice of media. The confrontation underlines the escalation in tensions in the South China Sea. It once again highlights China’s growing intimidation in the maritime region. China has a history of stopping ships and naval vessels in the South China Sea which it does to consolidate its claim on the area.
The Australian naval ships are on a three-month deployment of south-east Asia. Naval ships ‘HMAS Anzac’, ‘HMAS Success’ and ‘HMAS Toowoomba’ had left for the deployment last week. Chinese navy sent them a warning message on 15th of April when they were in the South China Sea. It was only after the Australian naval vessels gave a fitting reply to the Chinese navy that they were allowed to advance, informed sources in the Australian media.
China’s defense ministry has denied these claims from the Australian media and has alleged them to be fabricated. Trying to clarify its action, the Chinese Ministry of National Defense has explained that the People’s Liberation Army Navy established contact with Royal Australian Navy at the professional level and they too responded accordingly. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also backed the action by its navy.
Australian PM asserts that Australia will conduct drills in the South China Sea despite Chinese objection
Canberra / Beijing – In a strongly worded statement directed at China, the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has asserted that the Australian navy has a ‘perfect right’ to navigation in all the maritime regions across the globe including the South China Sea, in line with the international laws. It is just a few days back that the reports have emerged of Chinese navy challenging the Australian naval vessels en route to Vietnam through the South China Sea. Taking a strong stance on the matter, the statement issued by Prime Minister Turnbull had made it clear that Australia will continue to take an independent and affirmative policy not bending to the Chinese pressure.
Explaining Australia’s stance on the issue of the South China Sea, Prime Minister Turnbull said that the Australian navy has a ‘perfect right’ of navigation across the globe and that all their actions are based accordingly. Turnbull also said that this case of China concerns with the issue of the global freedom of navigation of the Australian navy and as per the international rules the Australian naval vessels have just right to do so including the disputed South China Sea.
The last few years saw warming of ties between Australia and China as the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had greatly advanced bilateral relations with China. But Turnbull’s tenure has seen Australia take an aggressive role on the issues concerning China. Over the last year, many controversies concerning China’s influence in Australia have come to the fore and in one such case a prominent Australian lawmaker has had to step down.
Last year, the Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs had released a whitepaper that threw a light on Australia’s foreign policy. The whitepaper had openly warned of China trying to challenge the US supremacy and had pointed out at the Chinese military expansion in the South China Sea as a reason of potential conflict. Terming the region around Australia as ‘Indo-Pacific’, the whitepaper had also asserted the Australian ambition of playing a decisive role in deciding the future of the region.
It seems that the deployment of Australian naval destroyers to south-east Asia is aimed to achieve the same and is part of efforts to curb China’s growing influence in the region.
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