New Delhi: Australia has raised serious concerns with China after an “unsafe and unprofessional” interaction between an Australian navy vessel and a Chinese warship left Australian military divers injured, said Australian Foreign Minister Senator Penny Wong on Tuesday. During the joint press statement following the India-Australia foreign ministers' framework dialogue in New Delhi, Wong said, "The Safety and well-being of Australian defence personnel is our utmost priority. We have raised our serious concerns with the Chinese authorities following what' we regard as unsafe and unprofessional interaction with the PLA navy destroyer.
These events occurred within Japan's EEZ and International waters and Australia's position is that we expect all countries including ourselves to operate militaries safely and professionally". Further, in response to a question on China's growing aggression in the Indo-Pacific and the security anxiety in the region, and Australia's approach to ties with China, Wong said, "India, Australia are both countries in the region which are facing a lot of challenges. We want to be part of shaping and influencing that challenge".
"We use the phrase peaceful, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific and essentially we have the same objective,” she said. On Australia's approach to ties with China, Wong said, "We also recognize the importance of China in the region and also globally and we continue to engage with China. India and Australia both have substantive economic relations with China.
The way which we describe it is 'we will cooperate where we can and we will disagree where we must' and we will engage in our national interest". Last week, Defence Minister Richard Marles said the HMAS Toowoomba - a long-range frigate was conducting a diving operation in Japan's exclusive economic zone on Nov 14 to clear fishing nets from its propellers when the incident occurred.