A Chinese destroyer has fired a laser at an Australian warplane – as tensions in the South China Sea rage on.
The military-grade laser beams – which can potentially blind pilots – were reported earlier this week.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Republic of China naval destroyer lased the RAFF Poseidon aircraft in an act that was deemed “unsafe and unprofessional” in violation of international codes and agreements.
Officials confirmed the incident after the Luyang-class guided-missile destroyer was spotted sailing through the Arafura Sea on Thursday.
The statement from the Australian Defence Department confirmed that it detected the laser as it was crossing through the country’s “northern approaches”.
The Governmental body said: “We strongly condemn unprofessional and unsafe military conduct. These actions could have endangered the safety and lives of the ADF personnel.”
“Such actions are not in keeping with the standards we expect of professional militaries.”
They later confirmed the vessel, which was accompanied by another People’s Liberation Army-Navy ship, was tracked by HMAS Launceston as it sailed through the Coral Sea.
The incident is the latest dispute over Chinese territorial ambitions in the Asia-Pacific region that includes the South China sea.
Rory Medcalf, the head of the Australian National University’s National Security College, responded by calling the act “dangerous and unacceptable” as it was “happening in our backyard.”
He said: “This emphasizes the strategic logic of the Pacific step-up and the need for our military to be vigilant right around our coastline.”
“It also points to a new level of recklessness in China’s military behavior in our backyard.”
The comments come after Australia announced a historic security pact with the US and UK in what was seen as an effort to counter Chinese aggression.
The AUKUS defense alliance includes a deal that would see the two Western giants share nuclear secrets.
China quickly condemned the agreement as “extremely irresponsible”.
Meanwhile, ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said it “seriously undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race.”
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced here with permission.