Stunning twist as China flips accusation on Australia: 'Provocative actions'

China has officially responded to accusations of an "unacceptable" military act off the Australian coast, categorically rejecting claims by the the Morrison government, and pointing the finger at Australia's military.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison had called for an explanation after an Australian military aircraft had a laser directed at it by a Chinese warship in waters off the Northern Territory.

On Monday he branded the act "dangerous" and "reckless".

But as expected, Beijing has denied any wrongdoing in a robust response.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters Canberra's account of the incident is "untrue".

Wang Wenbin rejected Australia's version of events. Source: FMPRC
Wang Wenbin rejected Australia's version of events. Source: FMPRC

"The normal navigation of Chinese vessels on the high seas is in line with relevant international law and international practice and completely legal and legitimate," he said.

"We urge Australia to respect the lawful rights that China’s vessels are entitled to in relevant waters under international law and stop maliciously disseminating China-related disinformation."

China releases its own photos of incident

China's Ministry of Defence accused the P-8A anti-submarine patrol aircraft of "provocative" actions by flying just four kilometres from the Chinese naval fleet and casting sonar buoys around one of their vessels.

"Such spiteful and provocative actions by the ADF will undoubtedly result in misunderstanding, and threaten the safety of aircraft, vessel and personnel of both sides," the Ministry of Defence said.

It released two images showing the aircraft and a sonar buoy in the water.

China's Ministry of Defence released images of the Australian aircraft and a bouy in which it dropped near their vessel. Source: MoD
China's Ministry of Defence released images of the Australian aircraft and a bouy which it dropped near their vessel. Source: MoD

"China is firmly opposed to these actions by Australia," spokesperson Senior Colonel Tan Kefei of the Chinese Ministry of National Defence said.

Earlier on Monday Beijing mouthpiece the Global Times published an article accusing Australia of "mud-throwing".

One unnamed analyst told the state-run publication Australia is "finding all ways to discredit China".

Morrison rejects China's claim

On Tuesday Mr Morrison was questioned on accusations the aircraft flew too close to the vessel, however he rebuffed the claim.

"Our surveillance aircraft was exactly where it was allowed to be doing everything they were allowed to do and keeping eyes on those who are coming into our exclusive economic zone," he told reporters in Tasmania.

"They were doing their job as they do every single day and we make no apology for where our surveillance aircraft are looking after and protecting Australia."

Defence Minister Peter Dutton said pointing the laser at the aircraft endangered the lives of those on board and could have blinded them.

Mr Dutton has repeatedly riled Beijing in recent months for "hyping" the chances of military conflict in the region.

Matters regarding China have moved to the forefront of the upcoming federal election narrative, with the Liberal party accusing the Labor party of an inferior stance to national security.

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