Australian Divers Injured by Chinese Sonar

24 January 2024


Imagine the outcry from the Chinese regime if an Australian naval vessel had set off its sonar system at divers from a PLA ship while they were attempting to disentangle fishing nets from their propeller in a third country’s economic zone.

There would be no end to the bellicose militaristic rhetoric by the CCP and its media outlets, such as The Global Times. All manner of threats would have been made about breaches of laws and conventions and the malign intentions of Australia.

The recent incident in Japan’s economic zone, in which Australian divers from the HMAS Toowoomba were injured, reveals the continuing aggression from Beijing. Instead of showing some regret about the incident, the regime sought to generate confusion. Consider the obfuscation by The Global Times.


Zhang Junshe, a Chinese naval expert, told the paper that while Australia claimed the incident happened in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, it did not give the exact location.

“If the incident took place in waters to the west of Japan, China and Japan have not carried out maritime delimitation in relevant waters, so Japan’s self-proclaimed exclusive economic zone could be well within waters administered by China,” Zhang said.

“Another Chinese military expert who requested anonymity” said that “Australia likely intentionally chose not to disclose the exact location because it has a guilty conscience.”

“Did the incident take place near China’s Diaoyu Islands or the island of Taiwan? Or was it close to a PLA training exercise? If that is the case, it was obvious that the Australian warship provoked China in the first place,” the expert said.


This latest incident is worrying for many reasons.

First, it is another event in an ongoing series of aggressions by the Chinese military. It follows the interception of foreign vessels and aircraft on a continuing basis, especially in international waters and skies.

The use of sonar on individuals can have deadly consequences for health and safety. Depending on the level of the sound, the sonars can cause damage to hearing and memory. At severe levels, sonars can rupture eardrums, rupture organs and even cause brain haemorrhage.

Secondly, the actions are not only dangerous, but can lead to deadly misadventure. It is difficult not to conclude that Chinese military commanders either believe they can act with impunity, or are following orders. Either scenario could set off actual conflict easily.


More worrying is the refusal by the Prime Minister to reveal whether he raised the matter during his recent meeting with Xi Jinping.

His refusal suggests that he did not broach the issue. If he had protested to the Chinese leader, why not say so?

If Mr Albanese did not raise the incident, it is a dereliction of his duty. Suggesting that a protest would have been delivered through some other channels is unsatisfactory.

Whether it was the prime minister’s intention or not, a failure to protest directly to the Chinese leader smacks of an eagerness to please rather than uphold our national interests. What is the use of meetings with overseas leaders if dangerous incidents are downplayed?


Originally published in the Epoch Times Australia. Photo by Pixabay.

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