Canada on Friday criticized the “extremely dangerous” manner in which China intercepted one of its helicopters. This happened at a time when tensions between Ottawa and Beijing had risen sharply.
The incident occurred last Sunday in the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, “far from claimed territorial waters,” as Canadian National Defense Minister Bill Blair said during a press conference on Friday. Two Chinese fighter planes escorted the helicopter and then fired flares “directly in front of the helicopter.” These types of interceptions require special maneuvering by the pilot to avoid the projectiles.
The helicopter was deployed under the Indo-Pacific Strategy, a common practice to maintain freedom in international waters. For Canada, this marks the second air interception of Chinese aircraft in less than three weeks. In mid-October, China intercepted another Canadian plane in mid-air.
Beijing claims almost the entire South China Sea, a major hub of sea routes through which billions of dollars in trade flows annually.
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