Chinese jets ‘buzz’ CFB Esquimalt-based ship as Trudeau preps for G20

PM looking for progress in disputes with China over agriculture products, detention of two Canadians

A Chinese flag is illuminated by sunshine in the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Thursday September 22, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has arrived in Osaka, Japan for the G20 leaders’ summit, with a contact between Chinese fighter jets and Canadian ships in the East China Sea adding a new tension between the two countries.

Trudeau is hoping for progress, or at least fresh support from other countries, in Canada’s disputes with China over agriculture products and China’s arrests of two Canadians in apparent retaliation for Canada’s detention of a Chinese high-tech executive on an extradition warrant from the United States.

The prime minister has no meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping at the summit to do this, but U.S. President Donald Trump committed to raising the detentions of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor during his own meeting with the prime minister in the Oval Office last Thursday.

Trudeau will also lean on like-minded allies that have already spoken out about the detentions, including France, the U.K., Germany and Spain.

On Friday, he will meet with European partners to discuss a range of issues such as climate change, though the diplomatic issue with China is expected to be raised.

READ MORE: Feds ‘deeply concerned’ by China’s arrests of Canadians Kovrig, Spavor

The incident at sea was reported by former journalist Matthew Fisher, now with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute think-tank, who was aboard HMCS Regina on June 24 when two Chinese jets flew within 300 metres of the frigate.

The Regina and the navy’s interim resupply ship, MV Asterix, were in the area after travelling in international waters from Vietnam to the coast of North Korea to help the UN prevent North Korean smuggling. That included a transit through the strait between mainland China and Taiwan.

The Defence Department confirmed the flypast in an emailed statement on Thursday, adding that the incident “was not provocative, hazardous, or unexpected given the proximity of the Operation Neon operating area to China.”

Operation Neon is the name of the military’s efforts to crackdown on North Korean smuggling in the East China Sea.

Chinese naval vessels also shadowed the Canadian ships, the department said, and a laser was pointed at a Canadian helicopter.

“This originated from a fishing vessel,” the department said of the laser. “No one was injured during this incident nor was there damage to the aircraft.”

According to Fisher’s report, the “noisy fly-past” was the first such incident between a Canadian vessel and Chinese aircraft, though the Regina’ captain, Cmdr. Jake French, was quoted as playing down any threat.

Russian aircraft have previously been buzzed Canadian warships in similar fashion in the Black Sea, where tensions have been high since Moscow annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.

Brian Job of the Institute of Asian Research at UBC said the department’s description of what happened during the transit has changed several times.

“First, DND simply reports passage through the Taiwan Strait, then it reports being monitored by Chinese vessels … but without anything untoward,” he said.

“Then today, the report on being buzzed by Chinese (military) planes — again with a reassurance by the military that this is not a concern.”

—With files from Lee Berthiaume in Ottawa

Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Rescuers battle fog, wind, rain on stormy Maple Ridge mountain

Four hikers rescued Sunday in Golden Ears park

MacDuff’s Call: A fond memory, of an old-school teacher

A new year starts in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Flames lose first game of new season

Maple Ridge junior Bs host White Rock Whalers Friday night

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

Safety concerns resurface after fatal bus crash on Vancouver Island

Huu-ay-aht First Nations wants a safe route between Bamfield and Port Alberni

National weather forecasters predict average fall, cold winter

The Weather Network says precipitation will about average in most parts of Canada

Two dead, two in critical condition in highway crash near Campbell River

Highway 19 reopened Sunday night after it was closed in both directions

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Federal party leaders address gun violence after weekend shooting near Toronto

One teen was killed and five people injured in the shooting

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Pedestrian struck and killed by vehicle in Surrey

Investigators were asking anyone who witnessed the incident to come forward

Most Read