(MENAFN- Asia Times) The incident last Tuesday (November 14) in which Australian sailors suffered minor injuries from sonar pulses from a Chinese destroyer couldn't have come at a worse time for Anthony Albanese.
He'd just finished a very successful trip to Beijing. He was about to again meet President Xi Jinping at APEC in the United States late in the week. The incident was potentially serious in terms of unsettling a much-improved relationship.
The HMAS Toowoomba's sailors had been undertaking the harmless task of unraveling fishing nets from around the ship's propellers. The vessel was in international waters inside Japan's exclusive economic zone on its way to a port. It had been supporting United Nations sanctions against North Korea.
The Chinese destroyer had been warned about the divers, but acted anyway.
There were two issues for Albanese: whether to raise the matter with Xi (assuming the President didn't bring it up) and whether to indicate publicly he had done so.
We don't know whether he raised it, because his office and ministerial colleagues won't answer this question. There has been no opportunity to question him since his return at the weekend.
It seems obvious he should have discussed the matter with Xi. He has repeated endlessly that“we will disagree when we must” with China.
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