The Philippines Coast Guard has accused China of using a military-grade laser to blind its crew. The incident reportedly took place in the disputed waters of the South China Sea and has raised concerns over the increasing militarization of the region.
The Philippine government has stated that it will investigate the matter and take appropriate action to ensure the safety and security of its maritime personnel.
The Philippines has accused China of “a blatant disregard” and “clear violation” of sovereignty, alleging that a Chinese coast guard ship last week directed a “military-grade laser light” at a Philippine Coast Guard ship in the hotly contested South China Sea, temporarily blinding the Filipino crew onboard.
A statement released Monday by the Philippine Coast Guard said the Chinese vessel “illuminated the green laser light twice” and “also made dangerous maneuvers” to block a Philippine fleet from delivering supplies to another ship grounded at 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 Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing later on Monday that the Philippine ship had “trespassed” and that, without mentioning the laser, the China Coast Guard responded “professionally and with restraint.” He added: “We hope the Philippines will earnestly respect China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea and avoid any actions that may lead to the expansion of the dispute and complication of the situation.”
The episode is the latest sign of rising tensions in the region. Just days earlier, the Philippines reinvigorated its military ties with the United States. The two countries agreed to significantly expand America’s presence in the Southeast Asian archipelago, as U.S. officials grow increasingly worried about China’s threat to nearby Taiwan and as the Philippines remains concerned about territorial incursions by its largest neighbor.
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