Canada says Chinese jets being ‘reckless’ near North Korea

A Canadian plane surveilling North Korea was approached by a Chinese jet in international airspace off the coast of China

a man in a suit with glasses and frown on face
Canada's Defence Minister Bill Blair said he was "very concerned" about the incident [File: Patrick Doyle/Reuters]

A Chinese fighter jet flew within five metres (16 feet) of a Canadian military plane over international waters near the coast of China, Canada’s defence minister has said.

The Canadian plane was taking part in surveillance to enforce United Nations sanctions on North Korea when the incident happened on Monday, Minister Bill Blair told reporters.

This is not the first time there have been close encounters between Canadian and Chinese planes.

In June 2022, after Canada made similar accusations, China said Ottawa was using UN Security Council resolutions as an “excuse” to “[ramp] up its close-in reconnaissance provocations on China”, according to China’s state-run Global Times citing Senior Colonel Wu Qian, a spokesperson at China’s Ministry of National Defence.

Speaking to journalists about the latest incident, Blair said that while the Chinese Air Force regularly interacted with planes on UN missions, the particularly close encounter had put the Canadian aircraft at significant risk.

“I am very concerned about the unprofessional way in which this was done,” Blair said.

“It was quite frankly dangerous and reckless. And those types of behaviours are not ever acceptable and we will express that to the People’s Republic of China in the most appropriate way,” he continued, but did not give details.

Canadian journalists from the website Global News were on board the Canadian surveillance plane on Monday and filmed the encounters with the Chinese jets.

At least two different Chinese jets intercepted the Canadian plane over a number of hours during the more than eight-hour-long mission, according to the outlet.

While most of the intercepts were done in a way those on board deemed professional, the paper reported, citing the military and its crew on board, that the last jet, which was armed with air-to-air missiles, was aggressively flying back and forth in close proximity while appearing to put the Canadian plane in its blind spot.

In May, the United States Pentagon said a Chinese fighter jet carried out an “unnecessarily aggressive” move near a US military plane over the South China Sea in international airspace.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies