China, Netherlands Trade Charges over East China Sea Warship Incident

Chinese jets allegedly circled Dutch warship HNLMS Tromp, endangering safety during UN-sanctioned patrol in East China Sea.
  • bureau
  • 06:56 AM, June 11, 2024
  • 871
China, Netherlands Trade Charges over East China Sea Warship Incident
Dutch Navy's 'HNLMS Tromp' De Zeven Provincien-class frigate

A naval incident in the South China Sea has sparked a diplomatic standoff between China and the Netherlands, with both sides exchanging accusations over a recent encounter involving the Dutch warship HNLMS Tromp, which was allegedly circled by a pair of Chinese jets.

On June 7, two Chinese fighter jets circled the HNLMS Tromp multiple times, according to the Dutch Ministry of Defence. Additionally, the Tromp's NH90 maritime combat helicopter was approached by two Chinese fighter jets and a Chinese helicopter during its patrol, creating what the Dutch described as a "potentially unsafe situation." This incident occurred in international airspace while the Dutch vessel was participating in a UN-backed mission to enforce maritime sanctions against North Korea, as outlined in UN Security Council resolutions.

Despite the tension, the Dutch frigate HNLMS Tromp has continued its mission and is en route to Japan as part of the multinational operation "Pacific Archer '24'." The vessel will later participate in the "Rim of the Pacific" naval exercises in Hawaii.

In response, China's Ministry of Defence issued a stern warning to the Netherlands. On June 11, a spokesperson from the Chinese defence ministry, Zhang Xiaogang, condemned the Dutch actions, accusing them of falsely claiming to carry out a UN mission and of flexing military force within a region under Chinese jurisdiction. "We strongly deplore the heinous nature of the Dutch side's words and deeds and have lodged solemn representations with them," Zhang stated.

China's Ministry of Defence further asserted that any infringement and provocation by the Dutch side would be "resolutely countered." The Chinese ministry characterized the Dutch patrol as creating unnecessary tension and undermining the friendly relations between the two nations.

This confrontation occurs against a backdrop of broader regional tensions. Both China and Japan lay claim to a group of islets in the East China Sea, a longstanding point of contention that has led to repeated face-offs between the two nations. Additionally, China's aggressive stance in the South China Sea has led to escalating incidents with the Philippine navy and other regional players.