Security experts warn of increasing tensions and potential escalation in China’s willingness to provoke the US and Canada.

February 14, 2023 – On Saturday and Sunday, the US and Canada shot down unidentified flying objects suspected of being Chinese intelligence-gathering balloons over central Yukon and Lake Huron. While officials referred to the Yukon object as a balloon, there isn’t yet any verification of what was shot down.

These incidents are adding to the larger increase in tension, distrust, and confrontation between China and the US, Canada, and other Asia-Pacific countries.

According to Allen Sens, a specialist in international security at the University of British Columbia, these incidents will raise questions about whether the use of these balloons is increasing and will indicate a disturbing escalation in China’s willingness to directly provoke the US by sending these craft over its territory.

Sens added that all of this fits into a larger pattern of increased aggressiveness by China, which includes its military pilots taking greater risks in flying close to allied aircraft in the eastern Pacific and its vessels showing more aggressiveness in territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he ordered the object over central Yukon shot down because it posed a threat to civilian aircraft and potentially to Canadians. He added that Canada and the US are taking the situation “extremely seriously.” Sens said that the incidents will reinforce the significance and value of Norad, which is “the cornerstone of Canada-US defence co-operation and intelligence in North America.”

Norad has already been more active, countering increased Russian military activity in the air over the Arctic, so now there is even more to do when it comes to the security of the air approaches to North America.