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Canada steps up naval deployments and exercises in Indo-Pacific

The Canadian government will step up naval deployments and investment in the Indo-Pacific as part of a new national strategy to promote a more influential “bigger footprint” beginning this year.

The Canadian government will step up naval deployments and investment in the Indo-Pacific as part of a new national strategy to promote a more influential “bigger footprint” beginning this year.

The country will boost its annual naval deployments in the Indo-Pacific from two warships to three, deploy two additional frigates to the Pacific coast in the summer and increase multilateral exercise participation, according to Canadian Minister of National Defence Anita Anand.

Canada will also invest more than $720 million to promote security and resilience in the region as part of Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, according to comments made by Minister Anand at the 2023 Shangri-La Dialogue earlier this year.

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“Our strategy is a complete, long-term road map for strengthening all areas of our relationships in the region, whether they involve trade, development or defence,” she said.

“Our strategy seeks to open up new opportunities with North Pacific partners like South Korea and Japan. It recognises and supports ASEAN centrality.

“And it is forthright about our relationship with China: China is an increasingly disruptive global power, that increasingly disregards international rules and norms.

“Canada will challenge China when we ought to. And we will cooperate with China to find solutions to global issues.”

Ships will operate throughout the Indo-Pacific by transiting in the South and East China Seas, and through the Taiwan Strait, in full accordance with international law.

Canada’s main Indo-Pacific military mission Operation Projection will be replaced with Operation Horizon to deploy more naval assets, participate in more multilateral exercises, and strengthen military-to-military cooperation.

“Canada is a Pacific country. Our Pacific coast is 25,000 kilometres long,” she said.

“Six of our top 13 trading partners are found in this region. And one in five Canadians has family origins in the region, as I do.

“Indo-Pacific is the fastest-growing economic region in the world. As a Pacific country, Canada has a keen interest in building a region that is stable and balanced.

“An Indo-Pacific where international rules and norms prevail, and all actors engage responsibly … where disputes are resolved peacefully.

“Ultimately, an Indo-Pacific that is free, open, and inclusive.”

Canada has previously signed a Defence Cooperation Agreement with Singapore in 2022, and a 10-year memorandum of understanding on defence research and development with the Republic of Korea this year. It is also finalising Strategic Partner status with ASEAN for September this year.

People’s Republic of China Ministry of National Defense spokesperson Senior Colonel Zhang Xiaogang said Canada must rectify its perception of China, act cautiously in words and deeds on China-related issues.

“The international community can see clearly who the ‘positive energy’ for world peace is, and who the ‘destroyer’ for global security is,” he said.

“We urge the Canadian side to rectify its perception of China, act cautiously in words and deeds on China-related issues and do more to contribute to regional peace and stability.”

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