China has called on other countries not to ‘complicate’ the issue in the South China Sea after an Australian plane flew over the disputed area.
The Defence Department says one of its aircraft was involved in a routine maritime patrol over the South China Sea from November 25 to December 4.
The Australian aircrew declared they were exercising international freedom of navigation rights in audio obtained by the BBC.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said there is ‘no problem with freedom of navigation or overflight in the South China Sea’ but warned countries ‘outside the region’ should respect the sovereignty of other states and not deliberately complicate the issue.
The revelations of the Australian operation come as US Commander Admiral Scott Swift expressed concerns nations could become increasingly tempted to use military force instead of arbitration to settle territorial spats .
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