Chinese state-controlled media accuses Richard Marles of withholding details about ‘dangerous’ fighter jet engagement

A Chinese state-controlled media outlet has accused Defense Minister Richard Marles of withholding details about an engagement between a RAAF plane and Chinese aircraft as it slammed Australia for trying to become “Washington’s right-hand man”.

Beijing has furiously reacted to Defense Minister Richard Marles’ recount of a recent interaction between a Royal Australian Air Force aircraft and a Chinese fighter jet over the South China Sea.

Chinese state-controlled media outlet, The Global Times” Australia accused of “deliberately engaging some of the pivotal details from the aircraft Mr Marles and the Defense Department addressed the incident on Sunday.

Australia was also slammed by the mouthpiece for wanting to impress the United States in the Pacific in an attempt to become “Washington’s right-hand man”.

The Defense Department announced in a statement on Sunday that a P-8 plane was intercepted by a J-16 fighter jet during “routine maritime surveillance” in international airspace.

A “dangerous manoeuvre” by the Chinese aircraft left the Australian crew on the P-8 maritime plane fearing for their safety.

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Mr Marles claimed the Chinese jet’s actions were “very dangerous” as he detailed the events of the engagement.

“What occurred that the J-16 (Chinese) aircraft flew very close to the side of the P-8 (Australian) maritime surveillance aircraft,” he said.

“In flying close to the side, it released flares.

“The J-16 then accelerated and cut across the nose of the P-8, settling in front of the P-8 at very close distance.

“At that moment, it then released a bundle of chaff, which contains small pieces of aluminum, some of which were ingested into the engine of the P-8 aircraft. Quite obviously, this is very dangerous.”

The Defense Minister said the Australian crew members reacted “professionally and in a manner which would make us all proud” before returning to its base.

In an editorial without a by-line The Global Times questioned why Australian officials had not provided more details about the cause and location of the incident.

“Where exactly in the South China Sea is the area in which the incident occurred? How far is it from the Chinese islands and reefs in the region? What is their purpose here?” the editorial read.

“Furthermore, what did the Australian military aircraft do before the intercept? How far was the Australian jet from the Chinese aircraft at that time? Why didn’t Australia take the initiative to announce it?”

China’s global propaganda mouthpiece claimed Australia’s military has “repeatedly groundlessly accused the Chinese People’s Liberation Army of conducting ‘unsafe and unprofessional’ operations”.

“But why does it always come as loud and urgent but with little evidence?” the editorial read.

“Of course, they will not say these crucial details, nor can they.”

Mr Marles said the Australian P-8 jet was in the South China Sea region for a surveillance activity which had been regularly undertaken “for decades”.

“Other countries do the same,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“We are operating completely within our rights in international law because the South China Sea matters to Australia because most of our trade traverses the South China Sea.

“We are deeply invested in the rights of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

“And so, to that end, I want to make it very clear this incident will not deter Australia to engage in these activities which are within our rights at international law to assure there is freedom of navigation in the South China Sea that is fundamentally in our nation’s interests.”

The Global Times editorial then claimed Australia “used to be relatively restrained in the South China Sea disputes” but had become increasingly focused on impressing the US.

“But in the past few years, the former Morrison administration became increasingly close to Washington. In many areas, it has provoked China on Washington’s behalf, and the most aggressive provocations occur in the military field,” the article read.

The Australian government was further accused of trying to become “Washington’s right-hand man” and regarding itself as the “deput sheriff of the Asia-Pacific region”.

The Global Times issued a warning to Australia saying the approach was “inappropriate and unwise” because China had “never posed a threat to Australia” referencing its position as the nation’s biggest trading partner and helping to ensure it “successfully survive the global financial” .

“Judging from the two recent incidents involving the ship and the aircraft, we need to remind Canberra that Sinophobia does Australia more harm than good,” The Global Times wrote.

“It has been proven time and again that the more “conscientiously” Canberra acts in front of Washington, the more easily the former will become a stepping stone.”

Australia has been working to improve relations in the Indo-Pacific in the weeks following the election with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong conducting multiple trips to the region to sure up Australia’s ties.


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