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.