Australia has accused China’s navy of using sonar pulses during an incident in international waters that injured Australian divers.
The Australian defence minister declared a Chinese warship engaged in “unsafe and unprofessional” behaviour during the encounter earlier this week off the coast of Japan.
The Chinese warship approached an Australian frigate while divers were removing fishing nets from its propellers, according to the minister.
Defence Minister Richard Marles said the Chinese ship then emitted potentially dangerous sonar pulses.
He said this posed “a risk to the safety of the Australian divers, who were forced to exit the water”.
The divers sustained minor injuries, likely caused by the emitted sonar pulses, reported Mr Marles.
Sonar uses sound waves to create images underwater, and at high levels, it can result in dizziness, hearing damage, and damage to organs.
There was no immediate comment from the Chinese side.
The US, Canadian and Australian militaries complained multiple times about what they say have been dangerous actions by the Chinese navy and air force in the western Pacific.
Australian Senator James Paterson, a member of the opposition Liberal Party, noted the incident came shortly after a visit by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to Beijing to improve his country’s ties with China.
He said: “On one hand, China says it wants a better relationship with Australia and on the other hand it takes dangerous manoeuvres that put the safety of Australian personnel at risk.”
The Australian government has expressed its serious concerns to the Chinese government over what it called the unsafe and unprofessional conduct.