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Chinese jets circle Dutch ship in East China Sea

June 8, 2024

A Dutch ship on patrol in support of UN sanctions on North Korea was approached by Chinese aircraft in the East China Sea, according to the Dutch military. The encirclement created an "unsafe" situation.

The ship Tromp leaves the naval port in the Netherlands
HNLMS Tromp is now on its way to Japan, according to the Dutch Ministry of DefenseImage: Ramon van Flymen/ANP/IMAGO

Chinese air force jets circled a Dutch frigate and approached a Dutch helicopter in the East China Sea in a way that created a "potentially unsafe situation," the Dutch Defense Ministry has said.

In a statement on Friday, the ministry said the HNLMS Tromp was circled several times by two Chinese fighter jets as it patrolled Friday in support of the multinational UN coalition overseeing the enforcement of maritime sanctions against North Korea.

In addition, the ship's NH90 maritime attack helicopter was approached by two Chinese fighter jets and a Chinese helicopter during a patrol. The ministry posted the photos of the helicopter and the jet on X, formerly Twitter.

"This created a potentially unsafe situation. The incident took place in international airspace," the ministry said.

According to the statement, HNLMS Tromp continues its journey as part of "Pacific Archer 24" naval exercises as planned and is now on its way to Japan.

Tensions in East China Sea

The Dutch ship incident comes as tensions rise in the East China Sea. Japan protested on Friday after four Chinese ships, presumably armed, sailed near disputed islands controlled by Japan in the East China Sea.

The incident was "the first time four [Chinese] ships carrying what appear to be cannons entered Japanese territorial waters" around the Senkaku islands, Japanese government spokesman Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters.

The islands are also claimed by China, which calls them the Diaoyus, and the territorial dispute has long been a sore point between the neighbors.

dh/sms (Reuters, AFP)