Canberra accuses Beijing of putting one of its P-8 spy planes at risk on May 26 over the South China Sea: yet another episode that has occurred in recent years, since relations between the two countries have deteriorated
Australia has accused China of endangering one of its P-8 spy planes on May 26 over the South China Sea with a dangerous maneuver. According to Defense Minister Richard Marles, during a normal maritime surveillance activity in international airspace, a Chinese J-16 fighter carelessly intercepted an Australian P-8, flying close to him, darting in front of him and releasing small pieces of aluminum, some of which ended up in the engine of the Australian aircraft. No one was injured and the plane managed to return to base, but Canberra expressed concern in Beijing through the appropriate channels, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said.
Relations between the two countries, which are important trading partners, have deteriorated over the past two years, with China seeking to increase its influence in the Pacific and Australia which asked for an international inquiry into the origin and delays in the communication of the Covid-19 epidemic, infuriating Beijing. The situation had generated an unprecedented diplomatic clash between the two countries: Camberra excluded the Chinese Huawei from the development of 5G and denounced the attempts to influence the country’s internal politics; Beijing which has imposed duties on Australian goods bound for China, the first market for exports. In the past, Australia had joined the United States in claiming that Chinese claims on disputed islands in the South China Sea violated international law, and in recent months episodes similar to that of May 26 had occurred involving ships or boats.
The accident comes revealed in conjunction with Albanese’s tripwhich today will go to Indonesia: a visit that, according to local analysts, will serve strengthen alliances in the region to contain China. After winning the elections on 21 May, the new head of government has already participated in the summit of the Quad group in Tokyo with US President Joe Biden and his counterparts from Japan and India, Fumio Kishida and Narendra Modi respectively. In Jakarta Albanian will see President Joko Widodo, with whom I will discuss trade and investment in particular, but also bilateral cooperation on climate and energy. The statement issued by her office also reports the words of Foreign Minister Penny Wong, according to which the new Australian government is serious in its commitment to Southeast Asia.