Beijing has increased its challenges to Australian fighter jets in the South China Sea lately, even as Australia’s own “surveillance patrol flights” have ticked up a tad, the Sydney Morning Herald reports (h/t the Diplomat):
The challenges would come in the form of radio broadcasts warning the Australian planes that they were close to Chinese territory and should move away. He [Air Marshal Leo Davies] stressed this was normal practice by many countries and said the nature of the challenges had not escalated.But he said “nearly all” flight were now challenged – something that had not happened in the past.
Australia officially takes a neutral stance in the South China Sea, and it’s declined to stand beside the U.S.-led coalition challenging China’s artificial islands. So it’s worth watching how Canberra handles these conflicts in the South China Sea going forward.