China rejects charges from Australia and Canada in air encounters

BEIJING -- China on Monday defended its military pilots, saying that they were acting properly and protecting its sovereignty.

China rejects charges from Australia and Canada in air encounters

BEIJING -- China on Monday defended its military pilots, saying that they were acting properly and protecting its sovereignty. This follows recent complaints from Australia and Canada about Chinese planes engaging in dangerous maneuvers with their aircraft in the Pacific.

Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Defense Ministry, stated that China swiftly responded to Canada's provocative acts as well as unfriendly and unprofessional actions.

The Canadian military said last week that Chinese planes violated international safety norms and put a Canadian crew in danger. According to a June 1 statement, the Chinese planes attempted to divert a long-range Canadian patrol aircraft from its path. The crew had to change directions quickly to avoid a collision.

The statement stated that such interactions "are of concern and increasing frequency."

From April 26 to 25, the Canadian plane was deployed to watch for fuel transfers between ships at Sea that could help North Korea avoid U.N sanctions due to its nuclear and missile tests. The transfers are being carried out by Chinese ships. Japan and the U.S. have also been involved in surveillance.

Wu stated in a statement, "Canada has intensified its surveillance of China under the pretext to implement U.N. sanctions." He stated that Canada would be responsible for any serious consequences resulting from its provocative and risky acts.

The collision of a U.S. surveillance aircraft with a Chinese air force plane resulted in the death and 10-day imprisonment of the U.S. crew members by China.

A separate incident occurred when the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visited Indonesia Monday and called the actions of a Chinese fighter plane on May 26 a dangerous act d aggression against an Australian aircraft that was conducting aerial surveillance over the South China Sea.

According to Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles, the Chinese J-16 was speeded up and cut in front the Australian plane. This released chaff mixed with small pieces of aluminum that was sucked into its engine.

The incident has not been commented upon by the Chinese Defense Ministry.

Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, stated that the Chinese military conducts all operations in accordance with international law and practice. It also does so in a professional and safe manner.

He said, "We ask Australia to respect China’s national security interests and major concern and to be careful with its words and actions so that it does not make a mistake that could lead to serious consequences."

China claims many small islands and coral reefs in South China Sea. It says that the area surrounding these outcroppings is its territory and airspace. All countries in the region use these waters as a shipping route. Australia is also part of the US's desire to maintain freedom of navigation.

Zhao stated that China will not permit any country to infringe on its sovereignty for the sake of freedom of navigation.

He also accused Canada for spreading disinformation. He said Canada should adopt a moderate, pragmatic policy towards China and take concrete steps toward improving relations between them.

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This report was contributed by Rod McGuirk, an Australian journalist for Associated Press, and Liu Zheng, a Beijing video producer.

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