Foreign Minister concerned about close calls between Chinese and Canadian planes

QUEBEC CITY — Chinese jets have endangered a Canadian military aircraft operating in Asia, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Thursday, adding that she would raise the issue with her Chinese counterpart.

QUEBEC CITY — Chinese jets have endangered a Canadian military aircraft operating in Asia, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Thursday, adding that she would raise the issue with her Chinese counterpart.

Joly was reacting to reports from the Canadian Armed Forces, which said on Wednesday that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force repeatedly failed to meet international aviation safety standards by flying dangerously close to the Canadian plane.

“I am extremely worried that there have been incidents in this region of the world,” Joly told a press conference at the Citadelle in Quebec, where she met her counterparts from the Baltic region. raise the issue with the Chinese authorities.

The armed forces said the “interactions” between Chinese and Canadian aircraft in international airspace near North Korea “are unprofessional” and “endanger the safety of our personnel”.

“The crews of several (Chinese) aircraft are very clearly visible as they approach and attempt to divert our patrol aircraft from their flight path,” the Forces said.

“In some cases, the (Royal Canadian Air Force) crew felt sufficiently at risk that they had to quickly alter their own flight path in order to increase separation and avoid a potential collision with the aircraft. ‘interceptor aircraft.’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government is taking the situation very seriously.

“The fact that China chose to do this is extremely disturbing,” he said in Alberta. “So we will speak directly with Chinese officials and counterparts and ensure that this does not continue to be part of an escalation.”

Asked if she considered the Chinese air force’s behavior an assault on Canada, Joly said the behavior was a “meaningful gesture” and should be discussed with her counterpart.

Joly said he spoke with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in April, a first since the arrest of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were released from Chinese custody in September 2021. Canada and other countries support that Kovrig and Spavor were arbitrarily detained in China in 2018 in retaliation for the RCMP’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a US extradition warrant.

“Now our goal is to make sure that we have a diplomatic relationship with China, but also to be able to discuss difficult subjects,” Joly said.

Canada deployed a CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft from April 26 to May 26 to Japan as part of Operation NEON, a multinational effort to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council sanctions against North Korea. The armed forces said the incidents happened several times during this deployment and the interactions became more and more frequent.

Joly, during his meeting with ministers from the governments of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, discussed the Russian invasion of Ukraine, disinformation and food security. Joly said Canada would work with its allies to prevent the conflict from triggering a global energy and food crisis.

Journalists also asked him if Canada would increase its military presence in Europe. She said Canada has around 1,300 troops in Latvia, adding that there are an additional 3,400 troops in reserve and ready to deploy if needed.

Joly and ministers from Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia will be in Toronto on Friday for a fireside chat hosted by Toronto Metropolitan University.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 2, 2022.

Caroline Plante, The Canadian Press

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