BEIJING (AP) — China’s defense ministry says a report that Australian navy helicopter pilots were targeted with lasers, apparently coming from Chinese fishing boats, was “not consistent with the facts.”
Spokesman Wu Qian told reporters at a monthly briefing Thursday that Australia should “reflect on itself” before pointing the blame at others.
A witness said the pilots were hit by lasers while exercising in South China Sea waters claimed by China earlier in May, forcing them to land as a precaution.
China maintains a robust maritime militia in the South China Sea composed of fishing vessels equipped to carry out missions just short of combat.
Similar incidents involving lasers and the Chinese military have also been reported as far away as Djibouti, where the U.S. and China have bases.