China rebukes Australia's claims of naval sonar injuries as "reckless"text_fields
Beijing: China issued a sharp rebuke to Australia, cautioning against what it termed "reckless and irresponsible accusations" after Australia alleged that sonar pulses emitted by a Chinese warship caused injuries to its navy divers.
Defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian urged Australia to refrain from making baseless accusations against China, asserting that China's actions had not adversely affected the Australian divers involved. He stated that Beijing "did not engage in any activities that may have affected the Australian divers," countering the claims made by Australia's Defence Minister Richard Marles, reported AFP.
The Australian Defence Minister alleged that a Chinese destroyer, while the HMAS Toowoomba was conducting routine tasks of clearing fishing nets from its propeller, approached the vessel emitting sonar pulses that "likely" caused injuries to servicemen.
Wu dismissed Australia's assertions as "completely inconsistent with the facts" and emphasised China's opposition to the claims, having lodged formal representations with the Australian government.
He defended China's military conduct, mentioning that the Chinese destroyer, named 'Ningbo,' had adhered to lawful protocols by undertaking tracking, monitoring, identification, and verification procedures.
China's Foreign Ministry also defended its military's actions, asserting their compliance with international law. Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning urged relevant parties to desist from causing disturbances near China's territory and encouraged cooperation to improve China-Australia relations.
Despite recent efforts to mend trade relations between China and Australia, tensions persist, especially concerning security issues. Australia's alignment with the United States against China's growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region has further strained relations between the two countries.
The Diving Medical Advisory Committee cautioned about the potential dangers of sonar sound waves, highlighting their adverse effects on divers, including dizziness, hearing damage, and organ damage.
HMAS Toowoomba, commissioned in 2005, is a long-range frigate equipped with advanced surveillance capabilities and sophisticated weaponry, according to the Australian Navy.