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To prevent a crisis, Canada must stop navy games

By LI YANG | China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-07 07:29

An aerial view of Yongxing Island, which is part of the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea, June 19, 2014. [Photo/IC]

On Friday, Canada accused the People's Liberation Army Air Force of "unsafe behavior" above international waters in the South China Sea, with Canadian Defence Minister Bill Blair saying that a Chinese aircraft engaged in "significantly unsafe" actions on Oct 29. The Canadian Navy claimed its CH-148 Cyclone helicopter was conducting "routine exercises" above the South China Sea when it was intercepted by two PLA Air Force J-11 fighter jets.

Ottawa also claimed the Chinese fighter jets "endangered" the helicopter by conducting two close intercepts "with little separation, causing the helicopter to experience turbulence". Later that day, another J-11 fighter aircraft "launched flares directly in front of "the same Canadian helicopter, Ottawa claimed, saying the Canadian aircraft was "subject to multiple close-proximity maneuvers" by the Chinese fighter jet that "put the safety of all personnel involved at unnecessary risk".

That's simply calling white black. No wonder Beijing has chosen to hit back at Ottawa on the Oct 29 incident. Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Zhang Xiaogang said on Saturday that a Canadian helicopter conducted flights of "unknown intent", approaching the airspace above China's Xisha Islands.

Saying that the Chinese navy and air forces had identified the Canadian helicopter, Zhang asserted that despite repeated warnings, the helicopter "refused to respond" and "took provocative actions such as flying at ultralow altitude".

The Canadian helicopter was engaged in "malicious and provocative actions with ulterior motives", Zhang said, emphasizing that the presence of the Canadian armed forces in the region, contrary to Ottawa's claim, will not contribute to a more secure and stable "Indo-Pacific", because Canada is hell-bent on riding on the US' coattails.

The incident was actually the second time in two weeks that Canada wrongly accused PLA aircraft of unsafe behavior. In mid-October, Blair alleged that a Chinese aircraft had buzzed a Canadian surveillance plane taking part in a United Nations mission above the East China Sea. The fact is, the Canadian plane was "causing trouble" at China's doorstep in a provocative way.

Canada has violated China's domestic law and relevant international law and endangered China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. But it should not underestimate the PLA's resolve to defend China's security, maritime rights and core interests, and stop engaging in dangerous games at the behest of the US, in order to prevent a major crisis.

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