Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more
Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the Apec forum in San Francisco last week. Photo: Getty Images via AFP

Australia’s Albanese speaks out on ‘dangerous’ Chinese navy incident that injured diver

  • Anthony Albanese told Australian media on Monday that the November 14 incident ‘certainly is an event that does do damage’ to Canberra’s China ties
  • ‘We’ve made that very clear to China’, he said in his first comments on the matter, adding that it highlighted the need for ‘communication guardrails’
Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said a Chinese warship acted in a dangerous and unprofessional manner during an incident with an Australian navy vessel that injured a military diver, his first comments on the matter which he said had damaged ties.
HMAS Toowoomba – a long-range frigate – was conducting a diving operation in Japan’s exclusive economic zone on November 14 to clear fishing nets from its propellers when the incident occurred, Defence Minister Richard Marles said on Saturday.
Albanese, who met briefly with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum in San Francisco last week, has come under domestic political pressure over whether he raised the matter with the Chinese leader.

In an interview on Monday with Sky News Australia, Albanese said the incident caused injury to one person and shows the need for “communication guardrails” between militaries.


China-Australia relations ‘on the right path’, Xi Jinping tells Anthony Albanese on Beijing visit

China-Australia relations ‘on the right path’, Xi Jinping tells Anthony Albanese on Beijing visit

“This was dangerous, it was unsafe and unprofessional from the Chinese warship,” he said.

Albanese said the incident was raised through “all of the normal channels”, but didn’t disclose if it was discussed in his private meeting with Xi at Apec.

“The consequences of these events are that they do damage to the relationship. And this certainly is an event that does do damage. And we’ve made that very clear to China,” he added.

A People’s Liberation Army Navy destroyer closed towards HMAS Toowoomba, despite the Australian vessel notifying the Chinese warship of a diving operation, and operated its hull-mounted sonar in a manner that posed a safety risk, Marles previously said.

Medical assessments found minor injuries to divers likely caused by the destroyer’s sonar, the defence minister added.

China on Monday responded to Canberra’s accusations and said its military has always operated in accordance with international law.

Beijing’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said “the Chinese military has strict discipline and has always conducted professional operations in accordance with international law and international practices”.

Australia chides ‘unsafe’ conduct after navy divers injured by Chinese sonar

“It is hoped that relevant parties will stop causing trouble at China’s doorstep and work with China to maintain momentum for improving and developing China-Australia relations,” she told a regular press conference.

A statement from China’s defence ministry said that “China kept a safe distance from the Australian ship,” adding that Australia’s remarks on the incident were “completely inconsistent with the facts.”

China and Australia have been working to patch up their once-close trading relationship after years of bickering and tit-for-tat reprisals.

Albanese visited China this month, the first Australian leader to do so in seven years, agreeing to restart an annual leaders dialogue.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse, Reuters