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Australia refutes Chinese claims of significant power failures on HMAS Adelaide

HMAS Adelaide , seen here while it was departing Sydney in support of disaster relief efforts in Tonga in January 2022. (Commonwealth of Australia)

The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) has refuted Chinese allegations that the Canberra-class amphibious ship HMAS Adelaide had suffered from “significant power failures” during a relief mission.

Adelaide is one of several Australian military assets that have been deployed to Tonga in the wake of a 15 January underwater volcano, which devastated much of the archipelago's infrastructure.

In its commentary published on 21 February, Beijing's state-controlled English newspaper Global Times claimed that Adelaide “suffered significant power failures when conducting humanitarian operations to Tonga”.

The commentary was published to address allegations that People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) vessels had illuminated an Australian P-8A Poseidon with a laser while the aircraft was in flight over Australia's northern approaches on 17 February.

In its explanation, Global Times claimed that the P-8A aircraft was instead being provocative towards PLAN vessels, which were on their way to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in Tonga. The newspaper also accused Australia of using the incident “to throw mud at China”. “Australia does not like China providing concrete benefits to other countries near Australia, so it is finding all ways to discredit China,” said the newspaper citing several unnamed analysts.

Global Times is a Chinese Communist Party-owned newspaper that has often been used by Beijing as an indirect medium to address issues concerning international affairs.

In response to queries from Janes on 4 March, a DoD spokesperson clarified that although Adelaide

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