China says had "encounter" with Australian navy in S.China Sea

Chinese warships and jets on the South China Sea. Reuters file photo.

Chinese and Australian naval vessels had an "encounter" in the South China Sea, China's Defence Ministry said on Friday, after Australian media said Australian warships were challenged by the Chinese military there.

The Chinese ships on Sunday used professional language to communicate with the Australian side, and China's actions were lawful, professional and safe, the ministry said in a short statement.

"The relevant reports in the Australian media do not accord with the facts," it added.

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