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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

800 meals donated for Cowichan frontline workers

They were at Cowichan District Hospital on May 25 handing out prepared meals to grateful workers

Cowichan CMHA officials respond to report, probation order

“there are important improvements needed to ensure greater fairness within our housing program.”

Cowichan RCMP remind public to leave dogs chilling at home on hot days

Dogsafe has designed a Dog in a Hot Car Responder Checklist

Editorial: Minimal risk in sending kids back to school

Time to poke our heads out of our comfortable nests and venture out into the world again.

Water in Lake Cowichan just fine, says acting mayor

Tim McGonigle said there is no truth to rumours of water advisories

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Stolen gargoyle returns to its perch on central Vancouver Island yard

Petey, a concrete gargoyle statue, was returned by Nanaimo RCMP after being found by city crew

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

Most Read