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Canada accuses Chinese warplanes of harassing its patrol aircraft enforcing U.N. sanctions

Canada accuses Chinese warplanes of harassing its patrol aircraft enforcing U.N. sanctions
Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora long-range patrol aircraft have been harassed by Chinese warplanes, the Canadian military said Wednesday. Photo Courtesy Government of Canada/Website

June 2 (UPI) -- Chinese warplanes have harassed Canadian aircraft patrolling international airspace as part of a United Nations Security Council mission to enforce sanctions imposed against North Korea, the Canadian Armed Forces said.

The Canadian Armed Forces made the accusations Wednesday, saying that on several occasions between April 26 and May 26, Chinese military planes have approached Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora long-range patrol aircraft in an attempt to divert them from their flight path.

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"These interactions are unprofessional and/or put the safety of our RCAF personnel at risk," it said in a statement. "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.

"These interactions are well-documented by our aircrew for professional internal analysis."

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The military said these interactions are of concern and of increasing frequency and that they have raised the issue to China through diplomatic channels.

The Canadian maritime long-range patrol aircraft were deployed to Kadena, Japan, on April 26 as part of Operation NEON, Ottawa's contribution to the multinational effort to enforce sanctions imposed between 2006 and 2017 on North Korea over its repeated nuclear weapon tests and ballistic missile launches.

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Since May 2018, Canada has conducted several deployments of aircraft, warships and personnel as part of the sanctions-enforcement mission.

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The announcement comes amid heightened tensions in the Asia-Pacific region between Western nations and China, who recently conducted combat readiness patrols in the waters and airspace around Taiwan.

Already high tensions between the United States and China climbed further recently over U.S. President Joe Biden stating they would intervene militarily if Beijing invaded self-governing Taiwan.

China conducted the patrol, calling the exercises a "necessary action" that was a response to U.S. "collision" with Taiwan, which it views a a rogue state that it has vowed to reclaim.

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Relations between Canada and China sunk to new depths after Ottawa arrested Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese tech behemoth Huawei, in December 2018 at the request of the United States. Shortly after, Beijing arrested Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. China released the two Canadians after Ottawa released Meng who entered a deal with U.S. prosecutors to defer fraud charges against her.

On May 20, Canada banned Huawei and ZTX from its 5G networks.

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