China strongly condemns Canada for illegally entering China’s airspace: defense ministry spokesperson
Published: Oct 18, 2023 11:01 PM
Chinese Ministry of National Defense spokesperson Wu Qian.

Chinese Ministry of National Defense spokesperson Wu Qian.

A Canadian CP-140 plane illegally entered China's airspace over the country's Chiwei Islet and approached the near sea area in East China and the Taiwan Straits multiple times recently. The Chinese Air Force has dealt with the matter in full accordance with the law, Chinese Ministry of National Defense spokesperson Wu Qian said on Wednesday, after Canadian Defense Minister Bill Blair reportedly called the interception "unacceptable, dangerous and reckless."

The Canadian side is hyping the issue and ignoring the facts and this is intended to confuse international public opinion. The Diaoyu Islands and their affiliated islands are China's inherent territory. Canada's actions seriously infringe upon China's sovereignty and threaten China's national security. They can easily lead to misunderstanding and misjudgment, are egregious in nature and are extremely dangerous, Wu said.

China strongly condemns this and has lodged stern representations with Canada, he noted. Wu warned the Canadian side to stop any provocative behavior to avoid escalation in the situation.  

Claiming it was conducting a mission to monitor the UN economic embargo of North Korea, the Canadian surveillance plane, a CP-140 Aurora, was reportedly intercepted several times during its eight-hour patrol off and around China's coast on Monday. 

Whether it is the Diaoyu Islands or the Taiwan Straits, Canada inevitably endangered China's national security by conducting close reconnaissance in these areas and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) must take actions to counter it, Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

"If the provocateurs' warplanes and warships are safe, then China's national security would not be safe. Only when these provocateurs feel unsafe, can our national security be ensured," Song stressed. 

Song said that the strong statement from Wu is aimed at telling the Canadian authorities that China is not some place where Canada can provoke and cause trouble at will. "If Canada persists in causing trouble, Canada will only have itself to blame."

While Canada is hyping the CP-140 plane incident, the US Department of Defense on Tuesday held a press conference and released some so-called newly declassified images and videos of coercive and risky PLA operational behavior over the last year or so against US aircraft operating lawfully in international airspace in the East and South China Sea regions. 

Ely Ratner, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, claimed at the press conference that "since the fall of 2021, we have seen more than 180 such incidents, more in the past two years than in the decade before that... And when you take into account cases of coercive and risky PLA intercepts against other states, the number increases to nearly 300 cases against US, allied and partner aircraft over the last two years."

When asked "Does the Pentagon encourage allies and partners to release the Chinese unsafe behavior to the public so that the public will get a better understanding of what the Chinese are doing," Ratner told the media: "I would say our position is that is their story to tell, those are their sovereign decisions to make about releasing that information. I think from our perspective, we believe that transparency around this is important for better understanding about this behavior."

Admiral John C. Aquilino, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, also mentioned at the press conference another similar issue where the China Coast Guard restricted Philippine vessels from trespassing into waters near China's Ren'ai Jiao (also known as Ren'ai Reef) in the South China Sea.

All these clues demonstrate that the US is the initiator behind some countries' accusations of so-called unprofessional interception by China. We all know that Canada is a "vassal country" to the US and all Canada's reconnaissance planes came from the US. Canada has to follow the US' Indo-Pacific Strategy and its deployment of military forces in the area is also aimed to serve as a supplement to US military ability in the region. Canada is doing this to contain China and damage China's national interests in order to implement the US' strategy, according to Song.  

The US, Canada and the Philippines have obviously cooperated and coordinated in creating negative public opinion about China. It can be seen that the US is gathering allies to launch a public opinion offensive on the "China threat," Zhuo Hua, an international affairs expert at the School of International Relations and Diplomacy of Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times.

Zhuo pointed out that the US Department of Defense is preparing to release an annual report on "China's military power." Over the years, the theme of this report has been to exaggerate "China's military threat." This year will naturally be no exception, so Zhuo deemed that the US-led West is warming up for this wave of public opinion activities against China. 

The US, Canada and the Philippines have repeatedly indoctrinated the public with the opinion that the PLA's interception is "unprofessional," "adventurous" and "aggressive." This aims to distort the international community's understanding of China's military development, legitimate protection of its rights and even its military intentions, Zhuo noted.