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Manila accuses Beijing of seizing weapons from Philippine boats

Photo: Jam Sta Rosa Archives Agence France-Presse A Chinese Coast Guard vessel (right) sailing past the 'BRP Sindangan' during a replenishment mission to Second Thomas Shoal in the disputed South China Sea.

France Media Agency to Manila

Published at 10:55 a.m.

  • Asia

Manila on Wednesday accused the Chinese coast guard of seizing weapons from some Philippine boats in the South China Sea, during a confrontation that left one seriously injured on the Philippine side on Monday.

“Chinese coast guard personnel illegally boarded our RHIBS (rigid hull inflatable boats)” and “they recovered some weapons,” Rear Admiral Alfonso Torres, head of the Philippine Western Command.

Filipino sailors were ordered not to use these weapons during this confrontation on Monday off the coast of Second Thomas Shoal Atoll, Torres added.

On Monday, Manila accused Chinese ships of damaging Philippine boats in the South China Sea, before announcing on Tuesday that a Filipino sailor was seriously injured in a collision during these incidents.

On Wednesday, Rear Admiral Torres claimed that the sailor had lost his thumb during this collision and insisted that the Chinese coast guard had, according to him, “deliberately rammed” the Philippine boats.

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“Piracy”

According to Philippine Chief of Staff General Romeo Brawner, the Chinese were armed with swords, spears and knives.

He denounced the Chinese action as “piracy” and demanded the return of seized weapons and other equipment, as well as repairs for damaged items.

“This is the first time we see the Chinese coast guard carrying bolos [a type of single-edged sword], spears and knives. Our troops had none of that, we responded with our bare hands,” he told the press on Wednesday after visiting the injured soldier.

Beijing, for its part, on Wednesday defended what Lin Jian, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, called “professional and moderate” measures taken by the Chinese coast guard against Philippine vessels. “No direct action was taken against Philippine personnel,” Lin Jian added.

State media in Beijing broadcast images of the Chinese coast guard presented as “the Chinese coast guard” carrying out “for the first time the boarding and inspection of a Philippine boat.”

On Monday the Chinese coast guard said a Philippine supply ship in the area had “ignored numerous solemn warnings from China.” They added that they had “taken control measures” against it “in accordance with the law”.

The photos show two Chinese ships approaching from both sides another of a smaller Philippine ship, while another Chinese ship follows closely behind them.

Chinese coast guards are seen boarding the surrounded ship .

The AFP was unable to independently verify the footage.

The boat had “approached the […] Chinese vessel in a manner “unprofessional, leading to a collision”, Beijing assured after the incident.

The Philippine military rejected these accusations, calling them “misleading and false”.

“It should now be clear to the international community that China's actions are the real obstacles to peace and stability in the South China Sea,” he said. Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro.

Manila's allies had expressed their concern.

Washington notably had “condemned” “dangerous and aggressive maneuvers” by China.

Confrontations

< p>Second Thomas Shoal Atoll has been the scene of an increasing number of confrontations between Chinese and Filipino ships in recent months.

These incidents often took place during resupply missions by the Philippines for the military present on the BRP Sierra Madre, a warship deliberately stranded on the atoll with the aim of making it an outpost and asserting their sovereignty claims against China .

Second Thomas Atoll is located approximately 200 km from the Philippine island of Palawan and more than 1000 km from the nearest large Chinese island, Hainan .

Beijing claims almost the entire South China Sea, an important trade route, and ignores an international arbitration that ruled against it in 2016. It patrols hundreds of coast guard and navy vessels there and has transformed several reefs into militarized artificial islands.

Repeated incidents between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea raise fears of a broader conflict that could involve the United States , an ally of the Philippines, and other countries in the region, at a time when China is increasing its diplomatic and military pressure around Taiwan by frequently sending planes and ships to its surroundings.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116