The Canadian government has launched a protest after a Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 reconnaissance aircraft was ‘buzzed’ by Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force fighters near the Korean Peninsula. Incidents involving fighters approaching to within 20-100 feet reportedly took place several times, with one Chinese fighter flying close enough to give Canadian crews a middle finger. A Canadian Department of National Defence spokesman said the incidents were “of concern and of increasing frequency,” and that “in some instances, the [Canadian] air crew 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.” North Korea remains China’s sole treaty ally in East Asia and an important security partner, and has been technically at war with the United States since 1950.
Aircraft and warships from Canada and other Western countries as well as Japan have frequently deployed near the country’s territory to monitor for potential violations of Western drafted economic sanctions resolutions that passed through the United Nations Security council in 2013, 2016 and 2017 and broadly targeted the East Asian state’s economy. China and Russia in May vetoed a Western-led effort to place further pressure on the North Korean economy with resolutions at the council. China’s fast modernising air defences and fleet of combat aircraft has shifted the balance of power on the Korean Peninsula, including playing a role in deterring an American attack on North Korea in 2017, with options for Western powers to place military pressure on North Korea expected to continue to decline as Chinese military power continues to grow.