Beijing lodges protest over Australia claims of unsafe naval encounter

A Chinese defense ministry spokesperson has called Australia's claims of an unsafe encounter between Chinese and Australian warships "completely untrue."

In a statement released on Monday, the spokesperson says that Beijing has lodged formal representations with Australia over the issue.

The Australian defense ministry earlier issued a statement expressing its serious concerns to China's government following an "unsafe and unprofessional" interaction with a Chinese destroyer.

According to the statement, an Australian frigate was in international waters inside Japan's exclusive economic zone last Tuesday. When it stopped to conduct diving operations to clear fishing nets that had become entangled around its propellers, the Chinese vessel approached and used its sonar in a "manner that posed a risk to the safety of the Australian divers."

Australia's statement says the divers suffered minor injuries "likely due to being subjected to the sonar pulses from the Chinese destroyer."

The Chinese spokesperson urged Australia to "respect the facts, stop making reckless and irresponsible accusations against China." The spokesperson called on Australia to make efforts to "create a positive atmosphere for the sound development of relations between the two countries and two militaries."

China and Australia remain at odds over security issues, despite a recent improvement in economic relations.