On Monday, February 13, the Philippines alleged that a coast guard ship from China flashed a military-grade laser onto the Filipino coast guard vessel’s crew, resulting in blinding them. The alleged incident happened in the South China Sea, a critical area of contention between the two countries.
The Philippines has termed it a ‘blatant violation’ of their sovereign rights, highlighting that the Chinese vessel was too close to the Filipino ship, about 137 meters close, blocking their way to a submerged reef where the Philippine forces had their base.
In 2022, the country filed nearly 200 incidents of Chinese aggression in disputed waters.
This is the first instance of physical suffering inflicted by the Chinese on Filipino nationals in these disputed waters. Earlier, China had blocked such ships from the Philippines but never used lasers.
The coast guard confirmed this in a statement that the Chinese vessel has used a green laser light twice on the Filipino vessel BRP Malapascua. The same has been reiterated in a video shared by the coast guard.
Wang Wenbin, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, blamed the Filipino vessel saying that the ship was travelling without permission on Chinese waters on February 6 and accordingly was professionally shown the way by the Chinese coast guard in compliance with international laws. He didn’t mention the laser light.
The Filipino coast guard clarified that the ship was delivering supplies to the crew of a Filipino navy sentry ship in the area. This blocking by the Chinese coast guard vessels halted their work, forcing them to move away. They maintain this is a clear violation of the country’s sovereign rights.
It’s not known whether the Philippine supply mission ultimately took place despite the incident.
References: AP News, US News
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