Flying near the disputed areas of the South China Sea, an Australian military surveillance plane with the crew warned China’s navy that it was on a freedom of navigation mission.
The tensions in the region have escalated since China transformed reefs in the South China Sea into small islands that are capable of supporting military facilities. The US says this move by China threatens free passage in an area through which one-third of the world’s oil passes.
In October, Washington rattled Beijing when the USS Lassen guided missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of at least one land formation claimed by China in the disputed Spratly Islands.
A Royal Australian Air Force patrol plane is now the latest to carry out patrols in air space around the area. “A Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion was conducting a routine maritime patrol in the region as part of Operation Gateway from November 25 to December 4,” a defence department spokesperson said.
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