China condemned on Tuesday Canada’s “illegal” intrusion into its airspace after Ottawa accused Beijing’s fighter jets of a “reckless” intercept of a Canadian maritime patrol aircraft.
Chinese planes shadowed Ottawa’s Aurora aircraft — on a mission to enforce United Nations sanctions against North Korea — over several hours in international waters, according to a Canadian television crew on the flight.
One came within five meters (15 feet) of the Canadian plane, in a move Ottawa’s Defense Minister Bill Blair Monday called “unprofessional.”
But Beijing hit back on Tuesday, accusing the plane of having “illegally intruded into the airspace” of Chiwei island, which lies in the Japan-administered Senkakus claimed by China.
“The Canadian military aircraft travelled thousands of miles to make trouble and provocation at China’s doorstep,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said.
“The Chinese side dealt with it according to law and regulations,” she said.
“The Canadian side should respect objective facts and stop spreading false information.”
The Aurora aircraft and its 13-member crew have been tasked with supporting a multinational effort to implement UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea in response to its nuclear weapons tests and ballistic missile launches.
“UN Security Council resolutions have never authorised any country to deploy military forces and conduct spy and reconnaissance activities in the sea and airspace under the jurisdiction of other countries on the pretext of implementing the resolutions,” Mao insisted.
“China urges Canada to face up to the seriousness of the situation and immediately stop its risky and provocative actions,” she said.
Relations between Ottawa and Beijing hit new lows this year following accusations of Chinese meddling in Canadian elections and the attempted intimidation of MPs that led to the expulsion of a Chinese diplomat in May.