1 / in the news reports I saw the lasers were reported to have come from fishing vessels, allegedly manned, or perhaps not, by militia members , they did not come from PLA-N warships.
2 / territorial waters are 12 nautical miles (24.224 km ) from the shore lime , and the Australian Government has stated that the RAN remains in recognised international waters and currently does not approach the 12nm limit of the disputed reefs.
3 / there is nothing wrong or sinister in PLA-N ships following RAN ships in International waters ( or vice versa ).NATO and Russian warships regularly do this to each other in both the North and Baltic Seas.
Having said that , I agree it would be preferable if the world's navies gave each other a wide berth, that would prevent any potential misunderstandings or incidents.
4 / reciprocal visits of naval vessels should be encouraged , but , they should also be publicly announced . As we have seen, a failure to do so allows some people to create a controversy or fear mongering which is both totally unwarranted , and potentially embarrasses the visiting navy , and thereby may create a problem when there is not , and should not, be one.
5 / one "expert" commentator warned the visit to Sydney was a long way off a direct route to China from the Red Sea / Horn of Africa, and therefore the Chinese "are sending a message"
NO, the PLA-N is making a reciprocal visit, ( resulting from an invite by Australia, in return for a courtesy visit to China by HMAS Melbourne in April of this year, and with the Australian Government welcoming the request from the PLA-N to visit whilst a Task Group is returning from Africa ) where it is returning from an International Anti Piracy Mission, in which both Australia and China have jointly, and together, participated in.
It should also be pointed out that the PLA has an overseas base in Djibouti ( actually close to the US base ) , and at some point, the PLA personnel stationed there will need to come home, and one of the PLA-N ships, LPD Kunlun Shan would do exactly that.
( Accoding to our ABC News, the PLA-N Task Group consists of three ships, being the Frigate Type 054A, hull no. 536 Xuchang ; LPD Type 071, hull no. 998 Kunlun Shan & Replenishment ship Type 903A , hull no. 964 Luoma Hu )
6 / And before anyone gets concerned about the Chinese LPD , just like similar USN LPDs, ( and Australia's LHDs ), it acts as both the flagship of the Task Group and is equipped with a hospital to provide humanitarian assistance, should the need arise.
7 / so, all in all, a bit of a beat up.
8 / the related issue of unresolved overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea should have been addressed in the 1970s, if not earlier, when the issue became more widely known. Despite the recent claims by the PRC relating to the 9 Dash Line, it shoud be pointed out that the Nationalist / Kuo Ming Tang Government of China reiterated its claim to that era in the 1920s, so this claim is not restricted to the current CPC controlled PRC.
Interestingly, the Japanese Administration on Formosa ( now Taiwan ) annexed the Spratly Islands in 1938, an annexation not challenged by US Administration in the Phillipines, this being recognition of the fact that Spain had never claimed the Spratly Islands as part of the Phillipines, therefore when Spain ceded the Phillipines to the US, it excluded the Spratly Islands.
It should also be pointed out that Imperial Japan's 19th century lease of Formosa recognised Formosa as being an integral part of China , hence the reason for both Taiwan and China jointly and together claiming both the Spratly Islands, and the 9 Dash Line.
I agree with the Phillipines claim to Ayungin Shoal / Second Thomas Shoal / BRP Sierra Madre, an xUSN WW2 era LST, 108 nm ( 194km, 121m ) west of Palawan, Phillipines; on the basis that it is on the edge of the Phillipines Continental Shelf, which may imply that the remainder of the Spratly Group is not on the continental shelf, that interpretation, may however, prove to be incorrect.