The Canadian Armed Forces has reported that Chinese fighter jets are coming into dangerously close range of Canadian aircraft over the Asia-Pacific region.

According to Global News, the Chinese planes are buzzing Canadian pilots taking part in a United Nations mission to monitor North Korea.

Reports have emerged of Chinese jets flying as close as 20 feet from Canadian military aircraft. According to some accounts, the Chinese planes have come so close that pilots have made eye contact. Canadian pilots also report having seen Chinese operators raise their middle fingers in defiance. 

Canada has sent the CP-140 Aurora plane to take part in drills as part of Operation Neon. 

The Department of National Defence (DND) has confirmed there have been at least 60 such incidents. 

“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,” said a DND spokesperson. 

Sources within the army have called the conduct of China “unsafe and unprofessional” and a risk for Canadian pilots within the region.

According to Macdonald-Laurier Institute senior fellow Charles Burton, there is a likelihood that repeated attempts could lead to a crash or other disaster. 

“(That distance is) scary close at those high speeds, and it could lead to disaster in a crash,” said Burton. “You do it too much, and eventually, sometime, it’s going to go wrong.”

“I’m completely puzzled as to why China would take the risk of fomenting an international incident that could lead to extremely heightened tensions if the Chinese aircraft leads to loss of Canadian life,” he continued. 

“And the fact the Chinese government is not responding to Canadian concerns, (not) seeking to rein in this kind of adventurism, is also very concerning.”

Beijing has been cited before for the increasingly aggressive stance it has taken against other Pacific powers. 

Chinese jets also buzzed Taiwan’s defence zone last year a record number of times, with the Taiwanese government revealing that military jets entered its defence zone on 38 different occasions. 

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