Chinese ties ‘damaged’ by diver row



Bangkok Post Public Company Limited


SYDNEY: Australia made clear its “strong objections” to Beijing after a Chinese destroyer disregarded warnings about personnel in the water and used sonar pulses that injured a navy diver, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said. “This was dangerous, it was unsafe and unprofessional from the Chinese forces,” Mr Albanese said in an interview with Sky News yesterday. “The consequences of these events are that they do damage to the relationship.” A People’s Liberation Army-Navy destroyer ignored requests to keep clear of the divers that had been freeing nets entangled around the propellers of the Australian navy’s HMAS Toowoomba. The incident occurred on Nov 14 inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone. The event has prompted criticism from Australia’s opposition coalition that said Mr Albanese was more interested in photo opportunities with President Xi Jinping during this month’s visit to China and wasn’t prepared to protect Australia’s national interests. The prime minister rejected that characterisation. “We’ve made it very clear to the Chinese of our strong objections,” Mr Albanese said. “This sort of event should not occur.” Mr Albanese earlier this month became the first Australian leader to visit China in more than seven years. Ties between Beijing and Canberra have rapidly improved since his centreleft government was elected 18 months ago. The Australian vessel had been in the waters as part of Operation Argos, enforcing sanctions against North Korea.