China and Australia had just opened up diplomatic conversations about a month ago. But this stalemate is being challenged by conflicts occurring in their airforce operations.

Last May, Australia started sending in aircraft for military surveillance in the South China Sea Region. According to the Australian Defense Department of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), their P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft was intercepted by China’s J-16 fighter during a “routine maritime surveillance activity.”

“The intercept resulted in a dangerous maneuver which posed a safety threat to the P-8 aircraft and its crew,” it said.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said their government underwent rigorous approval to ensure their flight was legal and not harmful. These routine flights were in no way detrimental to the Chinese government.

This event happened after the Canadian military reported Chinese warplanes “harassing” their pilots during the United Nations sanctions patrols along the border with North Korea.

Though Beijing has not commented on Canada’s allegations, they have stark responses against Australian military aircraft.

China and Australia Map
The location of People’s Republic of China and Australia. (Source: Phoenix500/Wikimedia)

According to the Chinese Defense Ministry Tan Kefei, Australia’s fights seriously threatened China’s security and sovereignty. They said they needed to take countermeasures and that their interception was a just and “lawful” response. The ministry also said they’re “resolutely” opposing Australian regional actions.

Though the Chinese government’s keeping their defense, it’s challenging for Australia not to see this interception as a direct act of retaliation. Last May, Australian intelligence also discovered a spy ship operating on Australia’s west coast.