China Responds After Fighter Jets Confront NATO Member's Warship

China Responds After Fighter Jets Confront NATO Member's Warship Royal Netherlands Navy De Zeven Provincien-class frigate HNLMS Tromp departs Norway to join exercise Formidable Shield 2023, May 7, 2023. On June 6, the Dutch Defense Ministry said Chinese fighter jets had circled the Tromp and approached its helicopter, creating a "potentially unsafe situation," as the frigate's carried out its mission to enforce U.N. sanctions in international waters.

China has warned the Netherlands to restrain its military after the NATO member complained Chinese fighter planes had harassed one of its warships in international waters.

The incident occurred Friday while the Dutch frigate HNLMS Tromp waspatrolling in the East China Sea in support of United Nations Security Council sanctions against North Korea, the Dutch Defense Ministry said in a press statement.

Two Chinese fighter jets had reportedly flown circles around the Tromp, with a pair of Chinese warplanes and a helicopter also intercepting the frigate's NH90 helicopter in a manner that "created a potentially unsafe situation," the ministry said.

The encounter echoed an incident last month in which a People's Liberation Army fighter jet reportedly fired flares across the flight path of an Australian helicopter that was also enforcing U.N. sanctions. In its annual China Military Power Report last year, the U.S. Department of Defense said it had tallied over 280 Chinese "coercive and risky air intercepts" of U.S. and U.S.-allied aircraft since 2021.

The U.N. did not immediately respond to a written request for comment.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Zhang Xiaogang told reporters Tuesday that Amsterdam was seeking to "cover up its infringement" of China's maritime rights. "The Dutch side falsely claimed to be carrying out a U.N. mission and displaying force in waters and air space under the jurisdiction of another country," he said.

Zhang said the People's Liberation Army's Eastern command had broadcast multiple warnings and dispatched fighters that ejected the Dutch side from the area. He condemned the "heinous nature of the Dutch side's words and deeds" and said his country had lodged an official diplomatic complaint.

The spokesperson warned the Netherlands to "strictly restrain" its air and naval forces and vowed that China would "resolutely counter" provocation.

The Dutch defense ministry said the Tromphad continued its voyage in line with its six-month global deployment, called "Pacific Archer '24," and that it was on its way to Japan.

Newsweek reached out to the Dutch Defense Ministry via an emailed request for comment outside office hours.

The Japan Maritime Self Defense Force on Tuesday published on social media photos of the Dutch frigate carrying out a joint exercise with Japanese frigate the Akebono.

"JS Akenobo is homeported in Nagasaki, which has a deep relationship with the Netherlands, and all crew was honored and motivated," the post read.

Beijing typically bristles over military operations conducted by extra-regional countries on what it considers its doorstep.

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