Dazzled in Djibouti

Both countries have bases in Djibouti.

US accuses Chinese of pointing laser at their pilots

The US has formally complained to China over several incidents of its pilots being irritated by lasers it says are coming from a Chinese base in Djibouti.

The Pentagon said it had asked China to investigate what it called “very serious incidents”.

It said people at the east African base had been shining military-grade lasers at US pilots coming in to land.

In one case, two pilots on a cargo plane suffered minor eye injuries, officials said.

Unclear intent

The US has a military base in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, which is used for counter terrorism operations in Africa and the Middle East.

Last year, China opened its first overseas military base only a few kilometres from the US facility.

“They are very serious incidents. We have formally démarched the Chinese government and we’ve requested the Chinese investigate these incidents,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White told reporters.

Ms White said the Pentagon was confident that while the intent was unclear, the lasers had been pointed by Chinese nationals.

In the past few weeks, fewer than 10 incidents had taken place, she said.

There has been no Chinese comment so far on the accusation.

Meanwhile, the White House responded to reports of renewed Chinese activity in the South China Sea.

The report from CNBC, citing informed sources, said China had placed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles on outposts in the Spratly Islands over the past month.

“We’re well aware of China’s militarisation of the South China Sea,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

“We’ve raised concerns directly with the Chinese about this, and there will be near-term and long-term consequences.”

China did not confirm the reports, but its foreign ministry reasserted China’s right to defend what it called its sovereignty over the contested islands.

Several nations claim parts of the resource-rich South China Sea, but recent years have seen Beijing reasserting its claim.

China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei all have competing claims.

Over the past years, the US has sent military vessels and aircraft to the region in what it describes as “freedom of navigation operations”.

 Source: bbc.co.uk
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