Adrian Wyld The Canadian Press “The maneuvers of the People's Republic of China fighter jet have been deemed very dangerous and we will express our concerns to China,” said Canada's Minister of National Defense, Bill Blair, in the wake of a second aerial interception by Chinese planes in less than three weeks.
Canada on Friday criticized the most recent “very dangerous” interception of one of its aircraft by Chinese fighter jets during a flight over international waters, at a time when relations between Ottawa and Beijing remain very tense.
A Canadian helicopter was intercepted twice on Sunday by Chinese fighters, one of which “launched flares directly in front of the helicopter,” Canadian Minister of National Defense Bill Blair said Friday during a press conference.
These interceptions, requiring a special maneuver by the pilot to avoid the rockets, “took place in the Paracel Islands”, in the South China Sea, “well away from the claimed territorial seas ”.
“The maneuvers of the People's Republic of China combat aircraft were considered very dangerous and we will express our concerns to China,” added the minister.
The Canadian helicopter, deployed by the national defense as part of the “Indo-Pacific Strategy”, was carrying out “routine exercises”, according to a statement.
Minister Blair said the flights were being used to “maintain freedom of navigation”. in “international waters” of this region located off the coast of China.
For Canada, this is the second aerial interception by Chinese planes in less than three weeks. In mid-October, a Canadian surveillance plane was intercepted in mid-flight by a Chinese jet.
Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, which is an important crossroads maritime routes through which billions of dollars in trade pass each year.
Sino-Canadian relations have been difficult since Canada arrested the financial director of the telecoms giant Huawei, in at the request of the United States, five years ago.
A few days later, two Canadians were arrested in China, a measure then widely seen as retaliation on the part of Beijing.
Although these three people have since been released, tensions continue between the two countries, with Beijing criticizing Ottawa for its alignment with Washington's Chinese policy and Canadian authorities suspecting China of interfering in its public affairs.< /p>