Australian warships “challenged” by Chinese ahead of Vietnam visit

A task group of three Royal Australian Navy ships was reportedly involved in what was termed as a “robust interaction” with Chinese PLA Navy ships in the South China Sea, according to a report by Australian Broadcasting Corp.

The three Royal Australian Navy ships, frigates HMAS Anzac and Toowoomba and auxiliary oiler HMAS Success, were reportedly involved in an interaction with Chinese warships while en route to Vietnam, where they arrived for a port visit on April 20.

The exchanges with the Chinese were polite, but “robust”, the ABC quoted an unnamed Australian defense official as saying.

The Australian defense ministry did not comment on the reports.

China’s defense ministry, on the other hand, refuted the reports insisting that the event (which according to the Chinese defense ministry took place on April 15) was professional and safe throughout.

The three Australian warships are currently on a goodwill and logistical visit to Ho Chi Minh as part of their three month deployment to South East Asia. Most recently, the ships completed port visits in Malaysia and the Philippines.

Earlier this month, the Chinese Navy carried out a massive live-fire exercise and parade which involved around 50 ships, including the country’s first aircraft carrier ‘Liaoning’.