The Hamilton Spectator

Canadian Armed Forces says it tracked, stopped China surveillan­ce attempts in Arctic waters

The federal government is aware of buoys recovered from Arctic waters, and that this type of activity is not new


Defence Minister Anita Anand said Wednesday that the Canadian federal government is aware of buoys recovered from Arctic waters, and that this type of activity is not new.

Anand’s comments at a news conference in British Columbia followed confirmati­on from the Defence Department and Canadian Armed Forces earlier Wednesday that they are aware of recent efforts by China to conduct surveillan­ce operations in Canadian airspace and waters.

Spokespers­on Daniel Le Bouthillie­r said in a statement that the armed forces have tracked and stopped attempts to surveil Canadian territory since 2022 under Operation LIMPID. “To ensure the integrity of operations, we are unable to provide further informatio­n at this time,” he said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said in an interview on CNN Wednesday morning that China is an increasing­ly disruptive power.

She said Canada will work with Norad to protect North American airspace and take a strong stance on Canada’s Arctic sovereignt­y as more reports of foreign interferen­ce emerge.

“When it comes to China, we will challenge China when we ought to, and we will co-operate with China when we need to,” she said.

“When it comes to issues over the Arctic within our maritime borders, or any form of foreign interferen­ce, we will be clear, and that’s how we will address this issue.”

Her comments come after the Globe and Mail newspaper reported that the Canadian military had detected Chinese monitoring buoys in the Arctic.

That revelation follows the U.S. decision to shoot down what was confirmed to be a Chinese highaltitu­de balloon early this month. China’s government denied it was a spy device.

Three other high-altitude objects were shot down over North America in the days that followed, but U.S. President Joe Biden has said that there is nothing to suggest these additional objects were related to what he described as “China’s spy balloon program.”

Recovery efforts to find debris from the objects have stalled, with Anand saying Wednesday that the RCMP has called off the search for an object shot down over Yukon due to rugged conditions.

Adam Lajeunesse, an assistant professor at St. Francis Xavier University who specialize­s in Canadian Arctic marine security, said it isn’t clear right now what kind of instrument­ation would be present in the Chinese buoys. “It’s some kind of scientific device with potential dual use capability that was almost certainly dropped off by one of the two Chinese icebreaker­s,” he said, referring to vessels that the country used to circumnavi­gate the Arctic.

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