Chinese jets are repeatedly buzzing Canadian surveillance planes enforcing United Nations sanctions on North Korea, coming so close that the Canadian aircraft were forced to change course to avoid a collision.
Officials with the Canadian military said the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) jets are not adhering to international air safety norms, CNN reported Thursday.
“These interactions are unprofessional and/or put the safety of our RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) personnel at risk,” Dan Le Bouthillier, media relations chief of the Canadian Armed Forces, told CNN.
Canada told CNN the encounters occurred in international airspace while Canada was taking part in Operation NEON, the mission to enforce sanctions on North Korea. Canadian officials said the encounters were “increasingly frequent” but didn’t give specific dates.
At times, the Chinese jets flew so close to the CP-140 Aurora long-range patrol aircraft that the Chinese aircrew was “very clearly visible” to the Canadian fliers. The patrol plane operated out of Japan’s Kadena Air Base on Okinawa from April 26 to May 26, CNN said, citing Canadian officials.
China claims much of the South China Sea as part of its sphere of influence and has ratcheted up its military standoffs with other nations.
On Monday, Taiwan said it deployed jet fighters to warn off 30 warplanes sent by Beijing into its air defense zone. The incident, the biggest Chinese incursion in several months, came only days after President Joe Biden warned China against invading Taiwan.
Beijing considers Taiwan to be a breakaway province of China and says it can take it by force if necessary.