An Australian maritime surveillance aircraft was intercepted by a Chinese fighter plane during routine activity in international airspace last month, the Department of Defence has confirmed.
The incident took pace in the South China Sea on May 26.
The RAAF P-8 aircraft was intercepted by a Chinese J-16 fighter plane, the department said in a statement on Sunday.
“The intercept resulted in a dangerous manoeuvre which posed a safety threat to the P-8 aircraft and its crew,” it said.
“The Australian Government has raised its concerns about the incident with the Chinese Government.
“Defence has for decades undertaken maritime surveillance activities in the region and does so in accordance with international law, exercising the right to freedom of navigation and overflight in international waters and airspace.”
New Defence Minister Richard Marles is expected to address the media later on Sunday.
Chinese warship tracked on WA coast
The incident occurred just weeks after it was revealed a Chinese warship was tracked "hugging" the West Australian coast.
Peter Dutton, who was Australia's defence minister at the time, said the "warship" in question had "intelligence gathering capability".
He said the ship's purpose would be to collect "as much electronic intelligence" as possible.
'Concrete actions' to reset relationship
China’s foreign minister Wang Yi was asked about the future of China-Australia relations during his visit to Papua New Guinea on Friday, according to a statement from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Mr Wang "noted that the crux of the difficulties in China-Australia relations in the past few years is that some political force in Australia insists on viewing China as a rival rather than a partner", said the statement, posted on the ministry's website on Friday night.
"State Councilor Wang stressed that to improve China-Australia relations, there is no 'auto-pilot' mode.
"A reset requires concrete actions. This meets the aspirations of people in both countries and the trend of our time."
Mr Yi has been touring Pacific nations trying to garner support for Beijing's regional development plan.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong is also touring the Pacific, and on Friday said the security of the island nations must remain in the hands of the region.
Senator Wong said she had received correspondence from her Chinese counterpart following her election and would respond in due course as appropriate.
The Chinese premier had reached out to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese too, who also said he would respond in due course.
PM's frank message to China
Not long after he took office, Mr Albanese delivered a frank first message to China.
"What I have said, and we maintain, is that the relationship with China will remain a difficult one," he told reporters moments after being sworn in.
"I said that before the election. That has not changed. It is China that has changed, not Australia and Australia should always stand up for our values and we will in a Government that I lead."
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