MoD silent on latest Chinese military encounter with Australian warship

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The Defense cited “operational security reasons” for not discussing recent encounters by an Australian warship with the Chinese military while sailing in international waters claimed by Beijing.

Military sources say HMAS Parramatta has been closely followed by the People’s Liberation Army in recent weeks, including a Chinese nuclear-powered submarine, a warship and several aircraft.

“Formal challenges have occurred, such as telling us that we are entering ‘Chinese territorial waters,'” said a defense figure familiar with the interactions.

“The most intense activity occurred while HMAS Parramatta was in the East China Sea,” the official told the ABC, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to discuss transactions publicly.

Since leaving Australia in late May, the ANZAC-class frigate has traveled to Vietnam and South Korea, then to Japan via the South and East China Seas as part of a “regional presence deployment” that included several joint military exercises with other navies.

According to the Australian Embassy in Vietnam, the HMAS Parramatta arrived in the port city of Da Nang on June 5, before departing the country more than a week later bound for the Busan naval base in South Korea. .

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That voyage took the ship through the South China Sea and then the East China Sea past Taiwan, which includes heavily militarized territory claimed by the Chinese.

During its visit, the ABC was informed that the HMAS Parramatta was closely followed by Chinese military assets, including a Type 052C “Luyang II” guided missile destroyer and a nuclear-powered attack submarine from type 093-A “Shang II”.

A Chinese nuclear submarine takes part in a naval parade off the eastern port city of Qingdao, to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy.(Reuters: Jason Lee)

On June 28, the Australian warship then arrived in the port of Sasebo in Nagasaki Prefecture after conducting naval exercises with the Japan Self-Defense Force.

The ABC last week approached the Department of Defense with a series of detailed questions about the Chinese military’s interactions with HMAS Parramatta, but it declined to answer them.

A chart of the globe labeled with locations in Vietnam, South Korea, and Japan.
HMAS Parramatta has been on “regional presence deployment” since May.(ABC News: Emma Machan)

“HMAS Parramatta is currently undertaking a regional presence deployment, conducting a number of navy-to-navy activities with Australia’s regional partners and participating in various maritime exercises,” a department spokesperson said.

“Regional deployments are part of Australia’s longstanding contribution to an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific.

“For operational security reasons, Defense does not publicly disclose specific details of operations,” the spokesperson added.

Defense Secretary Richard Marles, who is visiting the United States, also declined to comment on recent skirmishes when interviewed by the ABC.

“I won’t go into detail on that, other than to say what our army is doing, what our navy is doing in the South China Sea is routine,” Marles told Reuters. ‘ABC from Washington DC.

“He’s been doing it for decades, and he’s focused on affirming the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea: freedom of navigation, freedom of overflight, rules-based world order, which I described as being so important to our national interest.

When asked if the government might choose to publicly disclose the incident later, as it has done in previous encounters with the Chinese military, Marles left that possibility open.

“It could happen again in the future, but what we are focused on first and foremost is doing the activity because it is in our national interest.”

“And then obviously, in terms of managing information around this activity, we are focused on the safety of our military men and women.”

Last week, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) announced that it had “conducted a trilateral exercise with the US ship Dewy and HMAS Parramatta in the East China Sea east of Okinawa” between the July 4 and 6.

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“The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force is strengthening cooperation between the JMSDF, US Navy and Australian Navy to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he said.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Defense revealed that a Chinese J-16 jet fighter had flown close to an RAAF P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft during a routine patrol in the South China Sea. southern.

On Friday, Foreign Minister Penny Wong met with her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in Bali, the first face-to-face meeting at such a high level in nearly three years.

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