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China has criticized Canada of provocative actions in the South China Sea. The Canadian Navy reported that Chinese fighter jets came dangerously close to a helicopter in international waters. 

CNN recently revealed that a Chinese warplane fired flares in front of a Canadian military helicopter on October 29 which Canadian military officers consider reckless and dangerous, this created a potentially hazardous situation.

On that day, the Canadian helicopter had two “unsafe” encounters with Chinese PLA Navy J-11 fighters, which came as close as 100 feet (about 30 meters) to the helicopter. Major Rob Millen, who was on the Canadian Navy Frigate HMCS Ottawa, confirmed this in an interview with CNN.

Starting this month on November 3,Canadian Defense minister Bill Blair  informed the media that the actions of the Chinese jets were considered “significantly unsafe” and putting everyone involved at unnecessary risk. Importantly, Canada mentions that both of these incidents occurred in international waters in the South China Sea.

China’s Defense Ministry responded by accusing Canada of breaking both Chinese and international laws. They claimed Canada’s actions put China’s sovereignty and security at risk and labelled them as “malicious and provocative” with hidden motives.

According to Xiao gang, a spokesperson for the Chinese Defense Ministry, pointed out that the Canadian frigate, HMCS Ottawa, sent two helicopter missions with unclear intentions toward China’s air space near the Xisha Islands, which are claimed by China, Vietnam, and Taiwan and also known as the Paracel Islands. 

China’s People’s Liberation Army organized naval and air forces to conduct a identification and verification the situation in accordance with the law. They also issued multiple warnings to the Canadian helicopter. However, according to Zhang, the helicopter not only failed to respond but also engaged in provocative actions like flying at very low altitudes.

China has called on Canada to acknowledge the facts, stop exaggerating the incident, and take measures to ensure safety and prevent accidents in the sea and air by limiting the actions of its naval and air forces. This highlights the need for caution and avoiding risky situations. This statement emphasizes China’s concern about safety in the region.

According to Major Rob Millen, who was pilot in the  Canadian helicopter on the October 29, shared his experience and he stated that Chinese fighter jets came very close while the helicopter was flying peacefully at 3,000 feet above the water back towards the Ottawa, This was meant to signal to the Chinese that the helicopter had no hostile intentions.

To ensure safety, Millen had to descend to 200 feet, which is a challenging altitude for fast fighter jets. The Chinese fighters circled so closely that it created turbulence, putting the helicopter at risk.

This situation adds to ongoing tensions between the two countries in the South China Sea, where China claims assert control over a large portion of this south china sea witch is a resource-rich and important international waterway. Starting in 2014, Beijing has been turning small reefs and sandbars in the South China Sea into artificial islands. These islands have been heavily armed with missiles, runways, and weapons, causing concern among other countries with territorial claims in the area. 

The Paracels, known as the Xisha Islands by China, are located in the northern part of the South China Sea. They are to the east of Da Nang, Vietnam, and to the south of China’s Hainan Island. This massive 1.3-million-square-mile waterway is crucial for international trade, with approximately one-third of global shipping, worth trillions of dollars, passing through it annually. Additionally, it’s an important area for fishing, providing fertile grounds that support many people’s lives and livelihoods.

In 2016, an international tribunal in The Hague decided that China doesn’t have a legal basis to assert historical rights over most of the South China Sea. Despite this ruling, China has not followed it, and Western countries regularly send their naval ships through the area to emphasize that it should remain an international waterway, open to all. This situation has led to ongoing tensions in the region.

Just last month, the second time in a month that Canada has accused China of conducting risky encounters in the air. In mid-October, Chinese fighter jets got dangerously close to a Canadian Aurora maritime patrol aircraft. This aircraft was helping to ensure that North Korea followed United Nations rules regarding its nuclear tests and missile launches, a just 5 meters or about 16 feet, to a Canadian CP-140 surveillance plane over the East China Sea and raised concerns about safety and international rules. 

This incident was recorded by news crews on the Canadian plane and was witnessed by Major General Iain Huddleston, who is in charge of Canada’s 1st Air Division and was also on the aircraft. Huddleston described the encounter as ”unprofessional” and “very aggressive. The Canadian Defense Ministry stated that the Canadian aircraft was subjected to multiple dangerous maneuvers by a Chinese PLAAF aircraft, which put the safety of all personnel at risk. These incidents highlight ongoing tensions between the two countries.

China’s Foreign Ministry claimed that the Canadian plane unlawfully entered Chinese airspace. They accused the Canadian military of purposefully sending warplanes on long journeys to create problems and provoke incidents close to China’s borders. This is part of the ongoing dispute between the two countries.

 By the time of 2021, we have seen more than 180 incidents like this in international waters.







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