New York Daily News
Beijing is accused by Philippines of aggression at sea
The Philippine Coast Guard accused a Chinese ship of hitting one of its vessels with a military-grade laser light, temporarily blinding its sailors.
Video from officials in Manila shows a green laser coming from a Chinese Coast Guard ship blocking the path of a Philippine vessel in the disputed South China Sea on Feb. 6. The Chinese ship came within 450 feet of the Philippine ship, Philippine Coast Guard officials said Monday.
The Philippine ship was attempting to escort a vessel hauling rations and personnel to another ship marooned on Second Thomas Shoal.
Chinese ships have previously obstructed Philippine sailors, though a Philippine Coast Guard spokesman told The Associated Press this was the first time China caused physical suffering to its seamen. Manila called China’s alleged actions a violation of its sovereign rights in the “West Philippine Sea.”
Beijing hasn’t confirmed the use of a laser during the alleged confrontation.
“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,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.
The Philippines made nearly 200 complaints over China’s confrontational conduct at sea in 2022. China said such matters are addressed through “diplomatic channels.”
Chinese leader Xi Jinping hosted Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Beijing early this year, and they agreed to “appropriately manage differences.”
The Chinese blocked a Philippine vessel trying to resupply sailors in August.
The Philippines announced this month it would allow the U.S. military to access four new bases on its territory. U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin called the agreement “a big deal.”
After the agreement was announced, Kenneth Faulve-Montojo of Santa Clara University, an expert on Philippine politics, told Time magazine that the deal makes sense.
“By itself, the Philippines cannot stand up to China, so it does need the assistance of the United States,” he said. “So from the U.S. and the Philippine perspective, it appears to be a win-win situation.”