Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has condemned a Chinese warship after it came within metres of hitting a US destroyer in the South China sea.


Welcome back, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has condemned a Chinese warship after it came just metres away from a US destroyer in the South China Sea. Let's bring in our North Asia correspondent Eric Bakshaw in Singapore. Eric, good morning to you. Bright and early where you are. Now, should this be considered an aggressive act from China? 

There's no other way to interpret it. It's extremely rare that a warship would come within 100 metres or so of a US vessel. The actual incident was captured on the on board the HMCS Montreal Canadian warship, which was just following the USS Chunghun. 

And this kind of a situation obviously could be catastrophic if either of those warships were to come into contact. According to the Canadians on board, they actually saw the Chunghun accelerate towards the US warship as it was coming closer and closer into contact. 

So it's a very volatile situation. Yes, pretty alarming. And China's defence minister is now warning the US and its allies to stay out of their way. I mean, we're unlikely to heed that warning. Well, it's I think a significant moment. 

Yesterday here at the Shangri -⁠La dialogue, the Chinese defence minister, Li Xufeng, he said that basically US, Australian, British and other navies should stop traversing the Taiwan Strait. Now, that is, as part of the UN Convention on the Laws of the Sea, that's a key body of water that much of the world's shipping traffic goes through. 

And the Chinese general warned that if any jackals or Chinese doorstep, they'd be met with shotguns. So this kind of language we've seen before from China, that this is particularly pointed and it carried with it an implicit message that China is trying to make the Taiwan Strait non -⁠troversable. 

It's provocative language at the international level. A deputy prime minister, Richard Miles, has made an address. He's expressed his concerns as well. He has. Richard Miles had a meeting with Li Xufeng on Saturday night rather and it's only the second time that the two Australian and Chinese defence chiefs had met at the same meeting last year. 

It was the first time that the Australian minister had really had dialogue with their Chinese counterpart for the past two or three years. Their meeting, I'm told, was relatively warm. It's pretty striking how quickly that sort of relationship has been stabilised at the same time as the American relationship with China has deteriorated. 

And so China is using Australia in some ways to hedge its relationships around the world as it itself becomes somewhat more assertive in the region. It is a bit of a confusing message, it has to be said. Where does this leave our relationship when we're trying to make both people happy, I suppose, in a way? 

Increasingly as a middleman, China at this point is refusing to talk with the US defence chiefs principally because its general, Li Xufeng, is sanctioned by the US over some Russian fighter jets that China bought in 2018. As far as China is concerned, it won't talk to the US defence chiefs until those sanctions on its top general are removed. 

But Australia in that situation does have some roles in intermediary to try and get Beijing and Washington's talk, just as Washington really helps Beijing and Australia to start talking about a year ago. So Eric, what will come out of these talks, if anything? 

Well, look, I mean, most of these things in general can be a bit of a talk fest, but this one has been productive in that they have been quite tense. These sort of public slaying matches, these escalations of threats over the Taiwan Strait, I think, show that this outlook for global security is darkening. 

And if tensions are going to be managed, I think what Albanese and what Richard Maus have said over the weekend is that dialogue needs to happen. And at the moment, we're not seeing that between the United States and China. Really interesting perspective. 

We'll let you get back to bed. Thanks, Eric. Appreciate it. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has criticised the unsafe manoeuvre that occurred between a Chinese naval ship and US destroyer, saying the incident is concerning. On the final day of his visit to Vietnam, the PM raised a glass alongside Vietnam's communist leader, bowing to strengthen economic education and security ties between the two countries. 

For 50 years we have worked together to shape that future in our mutual interest. I very much like the Prime Minister's statement that no matter how treacherous a mountain there is always a path to the peak. That path is always better to get to the top if more people walk together rather than as individuals isolated from one another. 


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