Chinese Laser Incident a ‘Feint’ to Test Australian-US Response: Diplomacy Expert

The maritime incident involving a Chinese warship aiming a military-grade laser at an Australian surveillance aircraft was designed to test the response of allied forces in the region, according to a diplomacy expert. “I always thought if China wanted to probe America in the South China Sea, or they wanted to probe the Australian-American connection, they would attack an Australian ship first,” Joseph Siracusa, adjunct professor in international diplomacy at Curtin University, told The Epoch Times. “For example, that might be a small sea battle in the South China Sea where a Chinese frigate takes on an Australian frigate, or a Chinese torpedo boat sinks an Australian frigate to test the alliance,” he added. “When I saw that laser [incident]—that’s really a challenge both to Australia and to the United States … these mini-attacks on Australian assets, it’s really a feint or attempt to see how far they can go before big brother (the United States) comes along,” he said. Siracusa has also warned that the response of Western nations to the invasion of Ukraine—where sanctions were imposed after Russian troops were already on the ground in the country—displayed weakness. “The real lesson for defence planners is that if they think alliances are ironclad, or if they think they’re in the company of people who will come to their aid—the Ukraine situation will be a cautionary tale for countries like Australia on how far the West and the United States will go for an individual country,” he said. Meanwhile, on the Chinese laser incident occurred on Feb. 17, when two People’s Liberation Army—Navy (PLAN) vessels, a Luyang-class guided-missile destroyer and a Yuzhao-class amphibious transport dock vessel, were legally traversing the seas north of Australia within its exclusive economic zone. Read MoreAustralian Defence Force Disputes Beijing’s Version of Laser Targeting Incident The Australian Defence Force (ADF) dispatched a P-8A Poseidon surveillance plane to monitor the two ships, also within the boundaries of international law. However, while the Chinese vessels were in the Arafura Sea, the Luyang-class ship aimed a military-grade laser at the plane—a move Prime Minister Scott Morrison called an “act of intimidation.” Laser pointing is often referred to as “painting a target” and precedes the firing of weapons by a split second. Such a move is recognised by military personnel as a hostile act. Australia’s defence officials have raised concerns and pursued a full investigation with the Chinese authorities, the embassy in Canberra, the foreign affairs office, and China’s Ministry of National Defense. Follow Daniel Y. Teng is based in Sydney. He focuses on national affairs including federal politics, COVID-19 response, and Australia-China relations. Got a tip? Contact him at [email protected]

Chinese Laser Incident a ‘Feint’ to Test Australian-US Response: Diplomacy Expert

The maritime incident involving a Chinese warship aiming a military-grade laser at an Australian surveillance aircraft was designed to test the response of allied forces in the region, according to a diplomacy expert.

“I always thought if China wanted to probe America in the South China Sea, or they wanted to probe the Australian-American connection, they would attack an Australian ship first,” Joseph Siracusa, adjunct professor in international diplomacy at Curtin University, told The Epoch Times.

“For example, that might be a small sea battle in the South China Sea where a Chinese frigate takes on an Australian frigate, or a Chinese torpedo boat sinks an Australian frigate to test the alliance,” he added.

“When I saw that laser [incident]—that’s really a challenge both to Australia and to the United States … these mini-attacks on Australian assets, it’s really a feint or attempt to see how far they can go before big brother (the United States) comes along,” he said.

Siracusa has also warned that the response of Western nations to the invasion of Ukraine—where sanctions were imposed after Russian troops were already on the ground in the country—displayed weakness.

“The real lesson for defence planners is that if they think alliances are ironclad, or if they think they’re in the company of people who will come to their aid—the Ukraine situation will be a cautionary tale for countries like Australia on how far the West and the United States will go for an individual country,” he said.

Meanwhile, on the Chinese laser incident occurred on Feb. 17, when two People’s Liberation Army—Navy (PLAN) vessels, a Luyang-class guided-missile destroyer and a Yuzhao-class amphibious transport dock vessel, were legally traversing the seas north of Australia within its exclusive economic zone.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) dispatched a P-8A Poseidon surveillance plane to monitor the two ships, also within the boundaries of international law.

However, while the Chinese vessels were in the Arafura Sea, the Luyang-class ship aimed a military-grade laser at the plane—a move Prime Minister Scott Morrison called an “act of intimidation.”

Laser pointing is often referred to as “painting a target” and precedes the firing of weapons by a split second. Such a move is recognised by military personnel as a hostile act.

Australia’s defence officials have raised concerns and pursued a full investigation with the Chinese authorities, the embassy in Canberra, the foreign affairs office, and China’s Ministry of National Defense.


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Daniel Y. Teng is based in Sydney. He focuses on national affairs including federal politics, COVID-19 response, and Australia-China relations. Got a tip? Contact him at [email protected]