Canadian warship transits Taiwan Strait amid tensions

Updated on Sep 21, 2022 03:04 PM IST

China has not been mentioned in the statement, but recent Canadian naval activity in the Strait is understood to be in connection with Beijing’s actions in the region

In this photo provided by US Navy, The Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate HMCS Vancouver (FFH 331) transits the Taiwan Strait with guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76) while conducting a routine transit on Tuesday. (AP)
In this photo provided by US Navy, The Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate HMCS Vancouver (FFH 331) transits the Taiwan Strait with guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76) while conducting a routine transit on Tuesday. (AP)

TORONTO: A Canadian warship on Tuesday sailed through the Taiwan Strait en route to the East China Sea to begin its participation in a United Nations operation, as Ottawa said it is “committed to upholding stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region”.

A release from the department of national defence said this marked the commencement of HMCS Vancouver’s participation in Operation NEON, “Canada’s contribution to the monitoring of United Nations Security Council sanctions designed to pressure North Korea to abandon its weapons of mass destruction programs.”

“As a Pacific nation, Canada is deeply committed to upholding global stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. Today’s routine Taiwan Strait transit demonstrates our commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific,” Canada’s minister of national defence Anita Anand said as the Canadian Armed Forces Operations tweeted that the HMCS Vancouver was transiting through the Taiwan Strait along with American ship USS Higgins.

Since August this year, HMCS Vancouver and HMCS Winnipeg have been deployed to Operation PROJECTION, which is “a naval forward operating presence that demonstrates Canada’s ongoing commitment to peace and security in the Indo-Pacific. During this deployment, the vessels are taking part in multiple training opportunities, exercises, and bilateral engagements with foreign navies and international security partners,” the statement said.

It made recent port visits in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Manila, before joining USS Higgins to Operation NEON’s area of functioning.

“This sail was done in full accordance with international law, including high seas navigation rights as outlined in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” the statement added.

During this deployment, Vancouver will also participate in exercises KEEN SWORD, with the United States military and Japan Self-Defence Force, and KAEDEX with the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force.

China has not been mentioned in the statement, but recent Canadian naval activity in the Strait is understood to be in connection with Beijing’s actions in the region.

In early August Canadian foreign minister Melanie Joly said in a post on Twitter that Canada was “concerned by recent threatening actions by China which risk unnecessary escalation. There is no justification for this aggressive behaviour”.

Her comments came after a Canadian aircraft, participating in Op NEON, was repeatedly buzzed by Chinese jets earlier this year. On June 1, in a release, Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) said that “on several occasions during this most recent iteration of Operation NEON, interactions occurred between our Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora long-range patrol aircraft and aircraft of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).”

In its statement, the CAF said the People’s Liberation Army Air Force or PLAAF fighters “did not adhere to international air safety norms” and the “interactions” and were “unprofessional and/or put the safety” of the Royal Canadian Air Force personnel “at risk”/

In some instances, “aircrew felt sufficiently at risk that they had to quickly modify their own flight path in order to increase separation and avoid a potential collision with the intercepting aircraft,” the statement added.

The interaction between the air force of the two countries was the latest flashpoint in relations between Canada and China and Ottawa has said, “Such interactions, which occur in international airspace during UN-sanctioned missions, are of concern and of increasing frequency. These occurrences have also been addressed through diplomatic channels.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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