Australia's defense ministry has criticized a Chinese military destroyer for engaging in "unsafe and unprofessional conduct." It says Australian naval divers were injured when the Chinese vessel used sonar in an area where they were operating.
Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles issued a statement on Saturday. He said an Australian frigate was in international waters inside Japan's exclusive economic zone on Tuesday when it stopped to clear away fishing nets that had become entangled around its propellers.
Marles said the Chinese destroyer approached the Australian vessel while diving operations were underway. He said the Australian side informed the Chinese ship that divers were operating in the area and asked the ship to stay clear. But the minister said the ship used its sonar in a manner that posed a risk to the safety of the Australian divers. Marles said the divers sustained minor injuries.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visited China earlier this month. It was the first visit to the country by an Australian prime minister in seven years. The incident is likely to put a damper on the amicable relationship between the nations.