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China's defence ministry says Dutch ship incident 'heinous'

HONG KONG — China's Ministry of Defence on June 11 warned the Netherlands to restrain actions of its naval and air forces after the Netherlands' defence ministry said that Chinese fighter jets approached a Dutch ship unsafely in the East China Sea.

"We strongly deplore the heinous nature of the Dutch side's words and deeds, and have lodged solemn representations with them," the Chinese defence ministry said.

Chinese air force jets circled a Dutch frigate and approached a Dutch helicopter in the East China Sea in a way that "caused a potentially unsafe situation," the Netherlands' Defence Ministry said on June 8.

The ministry said the HNLMS Tromp was patrolling on June 7 in support of UN sanctions against North Korea when it was circled several times by two Chinese fighter jets.

Later, the ship's NH90 helicopter was approached by two Chinese fighter jets and a helicopter in an incident that took place in international airspace, according to the Netherlands' defence ministry.

Zhang Xiaogang, a spokesman for China's Defence Ministry said the Dutch side was "falsely claiming to be carrying out a UN mission and flexed its force in the sea and airspace under the jurisdiction of another country, creating tension and undermining the friendly relations between the two countries."

Zhang said that China wanted to warn the Dutch side that "infringement and provocation will be resolutely countered by the Chinese side."

The United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Tromp is heading for Japan next and then to Hawaii for the "Rim of the Pacific" naval exercises, according to the Netherlands' defence ministry.

Both China and Japan claim a group of islets in The East China Sea, which has long been a sticking