Philippine Coast Guard accuses China of blinding crew with ‘military-grade’ laser.
by CHAD DE GUZMAN
TThe Philippines has accused China of “flagrant disregard” and a “clear violation” of sovereignty, alleging that last week a Chinese coast guard vessel directed a “military-grade laser light” at a Philippine Coast Guard in the hotly contested South China Sea. , temporarily blinding the Filipino crew on board.
A statement released Monday by the Philippine Coast Guard said the Chinese ship “flashed its green laser light twice” and “also made dangerous maneuvers” to prevent a Philippine fleet from delivering supplies to another ship grounded in Second Thomas Shoal, also known as Ayungin Shoal. , a disputed atoll 120 miles off the west coast of the Philippine island of Palawan.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing later Monday that the Philippine ship had entered Chinese waters and that, without mentioning the laser, China’s Coast Guard responded ” in a professional and moderate manner.” He added: “We hope that the Philippine side will respect China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea and avoid taking steps that could aggravate disputes and complicate the situation.”
On Tuesday, the Philippines’ foreign affairs department announced it had lodged a diplomatic protest with the Chinese embassy in Manila over the incident. Spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza added that China’s Coast Guard actions were particularly “disturbing and disappointing” because Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had just visited Beijing in January to try to improve bilateral relations.
The episode is the latest sign of rising tensions in the region. Just days earlier, the Philippines revitalized its military ties with the United States. The two countries agreed to significantly expand the U.S. presence in the Southeast Asian archipelago as U.S. officials grow increasingly concerned about China’s threat to nearby Taiwan and the Philippines remains concerned about the territorial incursions of its larger neighbor.
Read the full article at Time.
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Posted on February 14, 2023