National Security

'We should release it': Coalition calls on government to release video of Chinese military intimidation in Yellow Sea

May 9, 2024

Thursday 09 May 2024
Oscar Godsell

There have been mounting calls for Australia to release footage of the dangerous military encounter between a Chinese fighter jet and an Australian Navy helicopter in the Yellow Sea.

At about 7.30pm on Saturday, a Chinese J10 Air Force jet dropped flares in front of an Australian Navy Seahawk helicopter, forcing crew to take emergency evasive action.

UK Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Knighton has encouraged the Australian government to release footage of the incident to highlight China’s unacceptable conduct.

Sir Knighton told the ABC: “Quite often it makes sense for us to show and release the imagery so we can prove what happened in practice and debunk some of the misinformation that gets pushed out by Russia and China”.

Shadow defence minister James Paterson has supported the call to release the footage.

“If there are no operational barriers to (releasing the video), I agree, I think we should release it,” Mr Paterson told Sky News Australia on Thursday.

“That would be illustrative of what happened here and just how dangerous it was and why it was only through the skill and fast reaction of the Australian service personnel that a serious incident was avoided.”

Beijing has accused Australia of provoking the Chinese military and said the helicopter “deliberately flew within close range of China’s airspace in a provocative move”.

“The Australian military aircraft flew near China’s airspace in a threatening way,” foreign ministry spokesperson Lin Jian told media at a regular news briefing on Tuesday.

Later, a Chinese Defence Ministry spokesperson, Senior Colonel Zhang Xiaogang said the measures were “legitimate, reasonable, professional and safe” and “in line with the international law”.

Sir Knighton has said releasing more detailed information and images of confrontation would help counter “misinformation”.

Neither Foreign Minister Penny Wong nor Defence Minister Richard Marles have contacted their counterparts in Beijing over the serious aerial incident.

The Coalition has hit out and shadow defence minister Andrew Hastie told Sky News Australia the government appears “weak” over the issue.

“The Prime Minister said it had been raised at all levels. We found out today it hasn’t,” Mr Hastie told Sky News Australia on Wednesday.

“He’s shown himself to be weak and dishonest. He should pick up the phone to President Xi and he should raise this directly.”

Even though tensions between Beijing and Canberra have thawed since the COVID-19 pandemic period, this latest incident has raised serious concerns about the bilateral relationship.

Chinese navy vessels have been tracked off Australia’s coast multiple times in recent years and China reportedly deployed “hundreds of satellites” to monitor US-Australian military exercises in August 2023.

The incident has come as Ms Wong visits Tuvalu to provide $110 million as part of a deal in which the nation in the South Pacific would need to notify Australia of any future security arrangements it makes with China.

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