Darwin: China attacked an Australian helicopter flying in the South China Sea with lasers. Even fishing boats belonging to Southeast Asian countries that were out for a catch in the South China Sea are said to have been targeted along with the Australian pilot. The accusation was levelled by an academic, who was travelling with the Australian amphibious warship, HMAS Canberra. Last year, China had used lasers against the US aircraft in the East China Sea as also near Africa’s Djibouti military base.
China has initiated the use of super-advanced weapons against their adversaries, with complete disregard for international laws. The international media asserts that the laser assaults on the Australian helicopter and the fishing vessels in the South China Sea are the latest instance of Chinese aggression. The Australian warships were on an exclusive tour since the last three months under the Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 mission, to strengthen the ties with the Southeast Asian countries.
In the past three months, Australia’s four warships, aircraft and nearly 1,200 troops toured seven Asian countries. Also, the fleet included the amphibious assault ship, HMAS Canberra. China made the move a few days ago, while the warship was on its way to Singapore via Vietnam.
During an interview with an Australian news channel, Air Commodore Richard Owen of the Royal Australian Navy said that the Chinese destroyers had dangerously followed the Australian warships. Commodore Owen added that the Australian Defence Ministry had been informed about the incident. However, academic Euan Graham, who was aboard the Australian ship, told an international news agency about China’s attack with the laser beam.
The Australian helicopter took off to accompany the four warships after the Chinese destroyers started closely following them. Nevertheless, China had attacked the helicopter pilot with lasers at the time. To avert a major disaster due to the laser strike, the pilot landed the helicopter on HMAS Canberra. No damages were reported in the attack although Graham said that the incident underlined the threat to the Freedom of Navigation in the South China Sea.
Last year, China had directed its Lasers towards the US aircraft patrolling the East China Sea while it had launched laser attacks on a US fighter jet returning to the US military base in the Northern African Country of Djibouti, from a Chinese military base nearby. After stating that the pilot had escaped significant injuries, the United States showered severe criticism on China.
Subsequently, the recent incident of the Australian helicopter may trigger a series of expeditious events in the region. Moreover, as Scott Morrison, who is known for his anti-China policies, once again formed the government in Australia, China expressed concerns over the relations between the mainland and Australia deteriorating.