WATCH: Canada and China diplomatic victory
After a transit through the Taiwan Strait, Canadian warship HMCS Regina encountered two Chinese fighter jets flying overhead while passing through the South China sea off the coast of Shanghai, in what has been stated as symbolic of a warm welcome from China. The international community portrayed mixed reactions over the event with French, Japanese, and British navies saying they received similar behaviour. Many ships have been in the South China sea and surrounding oceans as part of a multinational effort to thwart smugglers from transferring fuel near North Korea, an act which violates United Nations’ sanctions. The ship had just completed a visit to nearby Vietnam.
"The formidable twin-tail Russian-built strike aircraft flew within 300 meters (1,000 feet) of the Canadian ship's bow, screaming past about 300 meters above the water," explained Canadian Global Affairs Institute fellow, Matthew Fisher. Regina’s captain, Commander Jake French, also added that while the aircraft did not provide any threat, they believe it was an aggressive display, unlike anything the Canadian navy had seen before. None of the Chinese behaviour was unexpected or provocative given the proximity to Chinese territory that is normal for air forces and militaries to patrol their territory. French concluded by stating that the relations with the Chinese were “professional and cordial”.
Additionally, the Canadian naval forces spent days before the aircraft incident observing the Su-30 fighter jets from kilometers away. The Chinese government has responded since, stating that they knew of the Canadian presence and were monitoring the vessel through its trip along the Chinese coast.