Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media at Melbourne Commonwealth Parliament Office, in Melbourne, Australia February 11, 2022. (Darrian Traynor/Pool via REUTERS)
A P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft was illuminated on Thursday while flying over Australia's northern approaches by a laser from a People's Liberation Army–Navy (PLA-N) vessel, potentially endangering lives, the defence department said.
Morrison said his government will demand answers from Beijing.
"I can see it no other way than an act of intimidation, one (...) unprovoked, unwarranted," Morrison said at a briefing. "And Australia will never accept such acts of intimidation."
Defence Minister Peter Dutton called the incident "a very aggressive act" that took place in Australia's exclusive economic zone.
The Chinese vessel was sailing east with another PLA-N ship through the Arafura Sea at the time of the incident, the department said. The sea lies between the north coast of Australia and the south coast of New Guinea.
China has not commented on the incident, according to the Financial Times.