The Philippines accuses a Chinese ship of aiming a laser at a boat
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The Philippine Coast Guard alleged in a statement on its official Facebook page that the Chinese ship made dangerous maneuvers within 150 yards of the Philippine vessel, with photos purporting to show the green beam.
The incident allegedly occurred on February 6 near Ayungin Shoal, also known as Second Thomas Shoal, in the Spratly Islands chain, known in China as the Nansha Islands. China calls the shoal Renai Reef.
Wang’s statement did not state what action the Chinese side took, but it did say that the vessel defended China’s sovereignty and maritime order.
China claims “indisputable sovereignty” over almost all of the 1.3 million square mile South China Sea, as well as most of the islands within it. That includes the Spratlys, an archipelago consisting of 100 small islands and reefs also claimed in full or part by the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
The coast guard has accused the government of deliberately blocking the Philippine ships to deliver food and supplies to the military personnel on board the BRP Sierra Madre.
In the February 6 incident, the Philippine vessel BRP Malapascua was on a mission to resupply the Sierra Madre when it was challenged by the Chinese ship, the Philippine release alleged.
The Chinese ship’s green laser light caused the crew to be blind at the bridge. The Chinese vessel also made dangerous maneuvers by approaching about 150 yards from the vessel’s starboard quarter,” the release said.
Australia alleged that a ship of the People’s Liberation Army Navy “illuminated” an Australian P-8A plane as it was flying through the Arafura Sea between Australia’s Northern territory and the island of the same name.
CNN reported that there were at least 20 suspected Chinese laser incidents in the eastern Pacific in September and June of last year.
The alleged incident on February 6 came just days after Manila, which has a mutual defense treaty with Washington, announced plans to allow the US military access to more bases in the Philippines.
On February 2, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said the move “escalated tension in the region and endangers regional peace and stability.”
The State Department statement of last year called on China to end its provocative actions in the South China Sea and respect international law.
The June 17, 2022, statement states that Beijing is interfering with Philippine sovereignty in the Philippine exclusive economic zone.
The Philippine coast guard said in a statement that the Chinese ship maneuvered so close to the Philippine patrol vessel BRP Malapascua that it was forced to take evasive action.
The coast guard said they wouldn’t be deterred by China’s aggression in protecting Philippine sovereignty in the disputed sea, and one of the two Chinese ships that were joined by two Chinese civilians got rid of its 70mm gun.
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Aside from China and the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims in the resource-rich and busy waterway, where a bulk of the world’s commerce and oil transits.
The United States has no claims to the sea but has deployed forces to patrol the waters to promote freedom of navigation and overflight, which has annoyed Beijing, which has warned the US to stop interference in what it said is a purely Asian dispute.
The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps held joint exercises in the South China Sea over the weekend at a time of heightened tensions with Beijing over the shooting down of a suspected Chinese spy balloon. The US has been working to rebuild its military might in the Philippines more than thirty years after it closed large bases in the country.