An unbelievable crisis has erupted between China, Australia and Canada, with Chinese pilots showing the middle finger at military aircraft and a diplomatic crisis developing by a series of incidents during interceptions.
This week, China refuted claims by Canada and Australia that Chinese pilots acted irresponsibly while intercepting aircraft in international airspace.
Chinese Defense Ministry officials have accused both Australia and Canada of engaging in intelligence gathering and said the behavior of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) pilots was appropriate and within the law.
During their UN-approved flights over the East China Sea, Canadian crews reportedly came into contact with members of the Chinese Air Force who were acting in an “unprofessional” manner.
According to Australian reports, one of their planes flying over the South China Sea reported that it also faced this inappropriate behavior.
In a statement issued on Monday, Colonel Wu Qian of the People’s Liberation Army said: “Recently, Canadian military aircraft have stepped up close reconnaissance and provocations against China under the guise of implementing United Nations Security Council resolutions.”
The Chinese colonel said the Canadian crews “endanger China’s national security and the safety of its military personnel.”
“In response to the provocative actions and hostile and unprofessional operations of the Canadian military aircraft,” Wu said, “the Chinese military has taken reasonable, effective, safe and professional action.”
Wu said Beijing had protested to Canada through diplomacy and urged the Canadian military to “strictly discipline its front-line personnel”.
His response came after a statement released by the Canadian Armed Forces on June 1st stating that the crews of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CP-140 naval patrol aircraft were being intercepted by Chinese fighter jets often after the imposition of sanctions against North Korea as part of Operation NEO.
A Canadian newspaper accused the Chinese of flying 20 to 100 feet near the Canadian aircraft to make eye contact and raise their middle fingers at the Canadians.
In a recent incident, a Chinese J-16 fighter jet “released flairs” in front of an Australian aircraft, according to Richard Marles, who was appointed Australia’s defense minister in May.
According to Marles, “The J-16 then accelerated and scraped through the nose of the P-8 before passing again in front of the P-8 at a very close distance.”
“At that moment, it fired small pieces of aluminum, also known as ‘chaffs’, some of which were absorbed by the P-8 engine,” the Australian defense minister said.