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Friday, July 12, 2024

Philippines Claims China Used “Military-grade” Lasers on Its Ships in South China Sea

In a video made public by the Philippine coastguard, a ship could be seen making a green laser-like beam of light in the distance

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PHILIPPINES: In the South China Sea, the Philippines says a Chinese coastguard ship interfered with a mission by firing a “military-grade laser light” at one of its ships, temporarily blinding a crew member.

According to the Philippine Coast Guard, the Chinese ship attempted to purposefully obstruct a resupply operation by directing two green laser beams at the boat. The Chinese ship was also charged with engaging in “dangerous manoeuvres by approaching about 150 yards from the vessel’s starboard quarter.”

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In a video made public by the Philippine coastguard, a ship could be seen making a green laser-like beam of light in the distance. The incident, which happened on February 6, the coastguard said, happened when one of its vessels attempted to support a naval mission to provide food and supplies to its troops at Second Thomas Shoal, a submerged reef in the contested Spratly Islands that is known as Ayungin Shoal in the Philippines.

An outdated former US Navy ship that was purposefully grounded on Second Thomas Shoal in 1999 to establish Manila’s claim to the shoal is now home to a small Philippine military garrison.

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According to the Philippine coastguard, its vessel’s “deliberate blockage” was “a blatant disdain for, and a clear infringement of Philippine sovereign rights.”

The coastguard in Manila says that during a mission in August, the Chinese coastguard stopped Philippine ships from getting close to Second Thomas Shoal. The South China Sea, a body of water rich in resources and an essential oil transit route, is claimed by China to be its whole territory. But the sea could become a problem because the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei have claims to different parts of it.

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In response, China’s foreign ministry said its coastguard followed the law.

Wang Wenbin, a representative for China’s foreign ministry, said at a regular briefing, “We urge the Philippines to avoid such actions, and China’s staff is professional and restrained.”

China has already been chastised for allegedly directing lasers in the region. Australia, for example, claimed that a military-grade laser was pointed at one of its air force aircraft last year as it performed coastal marine surveillance.

The Philippines gave the US more access to its military sites in “strategic areas of the country” earlier this month. This made Washington’s presence in the country much larger. Last week, the president of the Philippines also paid a visit to Japan, a country that is a close ally of the US. As worries about China’s aggression grew, Japan decided in December to build up its military in the biggest way it has since the Second World War.

Also Read: China Responds to USA Over the “Spy Balloon” Case

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