Defense Minister Anita Anand said Beijing acted irresponsibly over the weekend in the Taiwan Strait, where Washington says a Chinese warship forced a US ship to avoid collision near a Canadian frigate.
“China must act responsibly,” Anand wrote in a statement on Monday, hours after the US military released a video on Saturday of what it called a “dangerous” Chinese maneuver.
The US destroyer USS Chung Hun and Canadian frigate HMCS Montreal were on a so-called “freedom of navigation” transit of the strait between Taiwan and mainland China.
China claims the democratic and self-governing island of Taiwan as part of its territory and retains the strait as part of its exclusive economic zone, while the United States and its allies regularly sail over the pass to underscore its assertion that the waters are international.
During Saturday’s transit, the Chinese missile destroyer passed the Chong Hun on its port side, then veered across its bow at a distance of 137 meters, according to the US Indo-Pacific Command.
The US military said the US destroyer continued on its way but reduced its speed to 10 knots “to avoid collision”.
Video posted on Monday shows the Chinese ship clipping the path of the American vessel, then righting itself to begin sailing in a parallel direction.
The US Navy released a video it said showed a Chinese warship within 150 yards of its destroyer in the Taiwan Strait, in what US military officials described as a “dangerous interaction”.
The US Indo-Pacific Command said the moves violated naval rules for safe passage through international waters.
The Chinese ship did not attempt a similar maneuver on the Canadian frigate, which was sailing behind the American destroyer.
Anand says the Canadian ship sails regularly to uphold global rules that recognize the Taiwan Strait as international waters.
An emailed statement attributed to Anand said: “We want to make sure that we do all we can to maintain peace and security in this region, but also to ensure that international norms and standards are recognized.”
Canada will continue to sail where international law allows, including the Straits and the South China Sea. Our overall goal is to increase peace and stability in this region.
She said that the Canadian army will have a greater presence in the region as part of the liberal government’s strategy in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Actors in this region must engage responsibly, and that is the whole point,” she wrote.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin defended the move.
“These actions are completely justified, legal, safe and professional,” he told reporters Monday in Beijing, according to an official translation of his remarks.
“China resolutely opposes the relevant country making trouble in the Taiwan Strait, and is resolutely upholding its sovereignty and security as well as regional peace and stability,” he said.
The United States must reflect on its mistakes and correct its mistakes.
At an independent press conference on Monday, Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre denounced the attack as a provocation and said Beijing must fight for peace.
We conservatives want a world of peace. Like most Canadians, we are not looking for a fight, but we must stand up for our values and our interests.
We must also make sure that our army is ready for anything, God forbid. »
The United States recently accused China of carrying out an “unnecessarily aggressive maneuver” in the air, saying that late last month a Chinese J-16 fighter jet flew directly in front of a US Air Force reconnaissance plane over the South China Sea.
The close calls raised fears of a possible incident that could lead to an escalation between the armies of the two countries at a time when tensions are already running high in the region.
— With files from the Associated Press