Chinese military jets “intercepted” a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) surveillance plane during the latest rendition of a United Nations mission in the Indo-Pacific, according to the Department of National Defence.
The incident occurred during the “newest iteration” of Operation Neon, a UN sanctions mission against North Korea, the department told PKBNEWS on Wednesday. A department official told PKBNEWS that there have been several interceptions and are occurring “regularly” during the operation.
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The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) had been deployed to the Indo-Pacific region for the latest iteration of the mission in September with HMCS Vancouver and a CP-140 Aurora aircraft, the government says on its website. This mission ended in November and the Aurora returned on November 20.
“What we can confirm is that in this latest iteration of Operation Neon, the Canadian Armed Forces were intercepted by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force,” said a spokesperson in an email.
“Canada clearly expects all interceptions to be carried out in a safe and professional manner and to refrain from interfering with lawful operations in international airspace. The CAF’s primary concern is the safety of its crew.
Over the summer, multiple sources within the CAF and the federal government told PKBNEWS that Chinese planes repeatedly “buzzed” a Canadian surveillance plane used in the UN mission.
Sources told PKBNEWS in June that there have been around 60 such interceptions with Chinese fighter jets since Christmas 2021, more than two dozen of which have been deemed unsafe.
These planes frequently flew between 20 and 100 feet from the Canadian aircraft, sources said at the time – so close that Canadian pilots can make eye contact with Chinese pilots and sometimes see them raise their middle fingers. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information.
At the time, a Department of National Defense spokesperson said the incidents were “concerning and increasing in frequency”.
“In some cases, the (Canadian) crew felt sufficiently at risk that they had to quickly alter their own flight path to increase separation and avoid a potential collision with the intercepting aircraft,” the official said. spokesperson in June.
Canada, alongside allies such as Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, has contributed to the mission since 2018, the government said on its website. The objective of the mission is to conduct surveillance operations to identify suspected maritime sanctions evasion activities by North Korea.
The UN sanctions, imposed between 2006 and 2017, aim to pressure North Korea to abandon its weapons of mass destruction programs and respond to nuclear weapons tests and ballistic missile launches north -Koreans.
“Canada remains committed to its sanctions monitoring activities under Operation Neon, including through the deployment of RCAF aircraft and maintains the expectation that any interception of its aircraft will be carried out in a safe and professional,” the spokesperson said.
Relations between Canada and China have deteriorated over the years amid growing economic and political tensions.
PKBNEWS reported on November 7 that Canadian intelligence officials had warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that China had allegedly targeted Canada with an extensive campaign of foreign interference, which includes funding a clandestine network of at least 11 federal candidates in the 2019 election, sources tell PKBNEWS.
Trudeau spoke about alleged interference in interactions with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G20 in Bali, Indonesia earlier this month. Xi then confronted Trudeau that it was “not appropriate” for details of those conversations to be shared with news agencies. This is the norm in Canadian politics.
Xi wasn’t criticizing Trudeau in G20 showdown, China says
Ottawa also released its long-awaited Indo-Pacific strategy on Sunday, with Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly calling China an “increasingly disruptive global power” in a region where several countries are showing major economic growth.
“The Indo-Pacific is the fastest growing economic region in the world. By 2030 it will be home to two-thirds of the global middle class and by 2040 it will account for more than half of the global economy,” Joly said.
“Every issue that matters to Canadians, our national security, our economic prosperity, our democratic values, climate change or human rights, will be shaped by Canada’s relationship with Indo-Pacific countries. .”
— with files by Rachel Gilmore
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