by KEVIN ANDREWS – IMAGINE the outcry from the Chinese if an Australian naval vessel set off its sonar system at People’s Liberation Army divers, while disentangling fishing nets from their propeller while stuck in another country’s economic zone.
There would be no end to the bellicose militaristic rhetoric by the Chinese Communist Party and its media outlets, such as the Global Times.
All manner of threats would have been made about breaches of laws and conventions and the malign intentions of Australia.
The recent incident in Japan’s economic zone, in which Australian divers from the HMAS Toowoomba were injured, exposes the continuing aggression from Beijing.
Instead of showing regret about the incident, the regime sought to generate confusion. Consider the obfuscation by the Global Times.
Zhang Junshe, a Chinese naval expert, told the paper that while Australia claimed the incident happened in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, it did not give the exact location.
“If the incident took place in waters to the west of Japan, China and Japan have not carried out maritime delimitation in relevant waters, so Japan’s self-proclaimed exclusive economic zone could be well within waters administered by China,” Mr Zhang said.
This latest incident is worrying for many reasons.
First, it is another event in an ongoing series of aggression by the Chinese military. It follows the interception of foreign vessels and aircraft on a continuing basis, especially in international waters and skies.
The use of sonar on individuals can have deadly consequences for health and safety. Depending on the level of the sound, the sonar can cause damage to hearing and memory.
At severe levels, sonar can rupture eardrums, rupture organs, and even cause a brain haemorrhage.
Secondly, the actions are not only dangerous, but can lead to deadly misadventure.
It is difficult not to conclude that Chinese naval commanders either believe they can act with impunity or are following orders. Either scenario could set off an actual conflict.
More worrying is the refusal by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to reveal whether he raised the matter during his recent meeting with CCP leader Xi Jinping.
His refusal suggests that he did not broach the issue. If he had protested to Mr Xi, why not say so?
If Mr Albanese did not raise the incident, it would have been a dereliction of his duty.
Suggesting that a protest about the incident would have been delivered through some other diplomatic channel is unsatisfactory.
Whether it was the prime minister’s intention or not, a failure to protest directly to the CCP leader smacks of an eagerness to please rather than uphold our national interests.
What is the use of meetings with overseas leaders if difficult incidents are downplayed? PC