CANBERRA, Australia — Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Monday criticized China for a “dangerous” encounter between Chinese and Australian warships but declined to say whether he had raised the issue in recent talks with President Xi Jinping.
He said one Australian diver was injured when a Chinese destroyer used sonar while near an Australian frigate in international waters last Tuesday.
Defense Minister Richard Marles said Saturday he had raised serious concerns with Beijing about the destroyer's unsafe and unprofessional behavior.
Between the encounter and Marles' statement, Albanese spoke to Xi on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific leaders' summit in San Francisco.
Albanese said on Monday his discussions with Xi were private, rather than a formal bilateral meeting in which content summaries are made public.
“I don't talk about private meetings on the sidelines, discussions I have with any world leader,” Albanese told Sky News in his Parliament House office.
“It's something that is a regrettable incident. That's why we have put our very strong objections to China very clearly, very directly through all of the appropriate channels in all the forums that are available to us,” Albanese added.
Opposition lawmakers have accused Albanese of failing to raise the encounter with Xi because the Australian leader did not want to risk setting back an improving bilateral relationship.