SINGAPORE — Canada is pledging to step up its military posture in the Indo-Pacific, with its defense minister announcing the nation will annually commit to the region an additional warship.

This will boost the size of the Royal Canadian Navy’s annual deployment to the Indo-Pacific from two to three ships, according to defense minister Anita Anand, who added that the deployment would grow Canada’s regional presence, particularly in the Indian Ocean.

Anand was speaking here at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies – Asia and taking place this weekend.

The frigate HCMS Montreal and support ship MV Asterix, which is a privately owned commercial support ship leased to the Canadian government, will be joined in the region later this summer when two frigates based on Canada’s Pacific coast will be deployed. Anand said the Canadian ships will sail in the South and East China Sea as well as the Taiwan Strait in accordance with international law.

“This is a clear signal that of Canada’s commitment to working with allied and partner navies towards regional peace, stability and prosperity,” Anand said.

The new Canadian deployments fall under Operation Horizon and replace Operation Projection, which is Canada’s main Indo-Pacific military mission.

The Canadian military is also slated to step up interactions and cooperation with regional and allied nations, including growing its participation in bilateral and multilateral exercises as detailed in its recently released Indo-Pacific Strategy.

Canada will also continue participating in Operation Neon, its contribution to the monitoring of United Nations Security Council sanctions against North Korea. Canada has sent ships, personnel and regular deployments of CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft to Operation Neon.

Anand also criticized China, calling it a “disruptive global power that increasingly disregards international rules and norms.”

However, she still expressed openness toward dialogue with China, saying that while Canada will “challenge China where we ought to, we will cooperate with China to find solutions on global issues.”

Anand’s speech came as Canada announced the frigate Montreal transited through the Taiwan Strait together with the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Chung-Hoon. The frigate had sailed from Canada’s Atlantic coast in late March, entering the region from the west via the Strait of Gibraltar and Suez Canal.

Canada’s Global News subsequently reported a Chinese Navy ship cut across the path of the American destroyer during the Taiwan Strait transit, forcing the American ship to slow down and take evasive action with the Canadian ship’s commander quoted as calling the Chinese maneuver “not professional.”

Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.

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