Australian PM Anthony Albanese criticized China for a contentious naval clash between warships that injured a diver. The incident, involving a Chinese destroyer and an Australian frigate, sparked concerns about safety protocols. Despite discussions during the APEC Summit, Albanese faced scrutiny for not formally addressing the matter with President Xi Jinping.
condemned the incident, labeling it "dangerous and regrettable." The
crash occurred when a Chinese destroyer deployed sonar near an Australian
frigate during a diving operation. Defence Minister Richard Marles raised
concerns about China's "unsafe" behavior, stressing the seriousness
of the situation.
Albanese emphasized his objections to China's actions through diplomatic channels but refrained from publicizing details of his conversation with President Xi. Critics accused him of prioritizing photo opportunities over addressing the issue, risking potential damage to bilateral relations that had shown signs of improvement.
Australia claimed the Chinese destroyer endangered Australian naval divers by operating sonar while they cleared fishing nets. Chinese media contested this, suggesting a territorial proximity issue and implying the Australian warship may have provoked the incident.
The clash exacerbated tensions, impacting the evolving relationship between Australia and China. Albanese's recent visit marked an attempt to restore diplomatic ties, highlighted by trade improvements despite previous trade restrictions and barriers imposed by China.
Relations between the two nations had soured due to various issues, including alleged Chinese interference in Australian politics and Australia's call for a COVID-19 origin inquiry. While trade barriers have eased, there remains underlying friction, with Albanese noting ongoing discussions, including debates over wine quality, symbolizing both progress and lingering challenges in their relationship.