Canada, China tensions rising over North Korea patrols


Diplomatic tensions between Canada and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are rising again, with each country accusing the other of using their military aircraft flying near North Korea for provocation and harassment.

The PRC’s foreign ministry on June 6 warned Canada of potential “severe consequences” of any “risky provocation,” after Canada’s military the previous week accused Chinese warplanes of harassing its patrol aircraft monitoring North Korea’s compliance with sanctions.

“The U.N. Security Council has never authorized any country to carry out military surveillance in the seas and airspace of other countries in the name of enforcing sanctions,” PRC foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking to reporters in Ottawa, responded that Canadian planes were participating in a U.N. mission.

The PRC’s actions “are irresponsible and provocative” and “are putting people at risk, while at the same time not respecting decisions by the U.N. to enforce U.N. sanctions on North Korea,” Trudeau, pictured, said.

Chinese aircraft have sometimes forced Canadian planes to divert from their flight paths, Canada’s military said.

 Wu Qian, a defense ministry spokesman, said the Chinese military took reasonable measures to deal with Canada’s actions and have made “solemn representations” via diplomatic channels.

China’s defense ministry said in a statement that Canadian military jets have stepped up reconnaissance and “provocations” against the PRC “under the pretext” of implementing U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The rise in tensions between Canada and the PRC follows Ottawa’s decision in May to ban the use of 5G gear from China’s Huawei Technologies Co. due to national security concerns.

That decision had been delayed after Canada’s detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018 on behalf of the United States, and Beijing’s subsequent arrest of two Canadians on spying charges. That standoff ended when all three were released in September 2021 after U.S. prosecutors reached a deal with Meng.