The United States formally complained to China after Chinese nationals pointed lasers at U.S. military aircraft near Djibouti in recent weeks, the Pentagon said on Thursday, an account strongly disputed by China.
Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa, hosts a U.S. military base which can be home to about 4,000 personnel, including special operations forces, along with can be a launch pad for operations in Yemen along with Somalia.
The U.S. military has been grappling with lasers being pointed at aircraft for decades. However, the Pentagon accusations highlight the concern the United States has about a Chinese military base just miles coming from a critical U.S. base in Djibouti.
“They are very serious incidents … We have formally démarched the Chinese government along with we’ve requested the Chinese investigate these incidents,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White told reporters.
White said the Pentagon was confident the lasers had been pointed by Chinese nationals along with within the past few weeks fewer than 10 incidents had taken place. The intent was unclear.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said which in one incident last month, two pilots in a C-130 suffered minor eye injuries.
The official said in a few instances, military grade lasers coming from the Chinese base had been pointed at aircraft.
In a brief statement, China’s Defense Ministry said the U.S. accusations were false.
“We have already refuted the untrue criticisms via official channels. The Chinese side consistently strictly abides by international law along with laws of the local country, along with can be committed to protecting regional security along with stability.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the government had conducted “serious checks” along with told the U.S. side the accusations were groundless.
“You can remind the relevant U.S. person to keep in mind the truthfulness of what they say, along with to not swiftly speculate or make accusations,” she told a daily briefing in Beijing.
Djibouti can be strategically located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal.
which year, the U.S. military put countering China, along with Russia, at the
center of a brand new national defense strategy.