China has stepped up the pressure against Canada, calling the nation’s aircraft patrols near North Korea “risky and provocative.” Chinese officials have warned Canada about serious consequences on the heels of complaints from Ottawa about Beijing’s aggressive actions in the skies.
A spokesperson for China’s defense ministry, Wu Qian, said in a recent statement, “Canadian military planes have stepped up reconnaissance and provocations against China under the pretext of implementing U.N. Security Council resolutions, endangering China’s national security and endangering the safety of frontline personnel on both sides.”
This statement from Wu Qian came when Canada accused the Chinese Air Force of harassing its pilots while they were conducting patrols in international airspace near North Korea. They were there to monitor sanction violations imposed by the United Nations.
According to officials from Ottawa, Chinese jets repeatedly buzzed Canadian jets and came so close that the pilots could see each other. Royal Canadian Air Force pilots were forced to change course to avoid collisions.
“In some instances, the RCAF aircrew felt sufficiently at risk that they had to quickly modify their own flight path in order to increase separation and avoid a potential collision with the intercepting aircraft,” a statement from the RCAF said.
That statement from Canadian Armed Forces said that these interactions were unprofessional and they put the safety of the RCAF personnel at risk. Ottowa officially lodged a diplomatic complaint against China.
Wu responded to the complaint that said China’s operation was “unfriendly and unprofessional.” He said that China “quickly took powerful, safe and professional measures to deal with it.”
He urged Canada to “face up to the seriousness of the situation, strictly restrain the front-line troops, and refrain from any risky and provocative behavior. Otherwise, all serious consequences that arise will be borne by the Canadian side.”
Canada is not alone in accusing China of causing danger to their air patrol recently. This past weekend, Australia said that a Chinese fighter jet intercepted a reconnaissance aircraft on a routine maritime surveillance flight. This happened in the South China Sea.
China has also increased military actions against Taipei in the last couple of months. There have been ongoing warplane incursions in the self-governing island’s Air Defense Identification Zone. China called this activating a “solemn warning to the recent U.S.-Taiwan collusion activities.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said recently that the growing coercion from China is “amplifying tensions” in the region, and it is rising to “dangerous levels.”
Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the foreign ministry of China responded saying, “The U.N. Security Council has never authorized any country to carry out military surveillance in the seas and airspace of other countries in the name of enforcing sanctions.”
Then, Canadian Prime Ministry Justin Trudeau said that Canada was an active member of “an important mission” in the North Pacific. They are there to ensure that sanctions on North Korea are properly enforced.
Canada stationed its aircraft in Japan while the nation joined in the multinational effort to implement UN sanctions against North Korea. The reason for these sanctions was North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. The United States and Japan also take part in such surveillance activities. These patrol missions watch over fuel transfers between ships at sea that could have been a part of North Korea’s recent missile launches. China, an ally of North Korea, is suspected of taking part in these transfers.
North Korea has launched 18 rounds of missile tests so far in 2022, and this included an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). It is suspected that North Korea is preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test, the first since 2017.
As an ally of North Korea, China is willing to go toe to toe with Canada, Australia, South Korea, Japan, and the United States.