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China Accused of Military Laser Use

Laser Use
A Chinese vessel points a green laser at a Philippine vessel | Image by Philippine Coast Guard

Tensions have escalated in the South China Sea after the Philippines accused the Chinese coast guard of using a laser to disrupt a resupply mission for its navy.

China has been taking increasingly aggressive actions in this region since late last year.

As The Dallas Express reported in December, the Philippines claimed that Chinese vessels had entered sovereign waters near its shores. A few weeks later, the Chinese air force simulated an air raid near Taiwan, entering the island nation’s air defense identification zone in what Taiwanese authorities called a blatant attempt at intimidation.

The Chinese authorities downplayed these and other incidents. To the latest charge, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, responded that “the actions of China’s staff are professional and restrained,” according to Reuters.

The Philippine authorities allege that one of China’s naval vessels fired a military-grade laser at the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on February 6, temporarily blinding the ship’s staff and threatening it with “dangerous maneuvers,” the EurAsian Times reported.

The PCG ship was carrying supplies for the country’s navy in the Spratly Islands — the ownership of which has been in dispute since the 1970s — when it was allegedly targeted.

“The deliberate blocking of the Philippine government ships to deliver food and supplies to our military personnel … is a blatant disregard for, and a clear violation of, Philippine sovereign rights,” the PCG said in a statement, Reuters reported.

According to the EurAsian Times, the PCG has regularly accused the Chinese coast guard of intimidation and harassment in the disputed territories. Last month, the Philippine government claimed the Chinese coast guard had harassed local fishermen near Ayungin Shoal, where the latest incident took place.

It is also not the first time China has been accused of directing lasers at other nations’ craft in the South China Sea. Australia also claims a military-grade laser was aimed at one of its air force planes last year.

In what Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called an “act of intimidation,” a Chinese navy vessel was said to have directed a laser at an Australian military surveillance aircraft in February 2022, as reported by The Guardian.

China was similarly accused of firing lasers at Philippine vessels in the disputed waters in 2020. At the time, the Philippines government in Manila chose to downplay the incident and absolved the Chinese coast guard of any significant wrongdoing, as the EurAsian Times reported.

It is noteworthy that during Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s visit to Beijing in January, China said it would address maritime disputes “cordially” with the Philippines, as Reuters reported.

Just this month, the Philippines granted the United States access to additional military bases under a visiting forces agreement, according to Reuters. China criticized the move, claiming it would undermine regional stability and raise tensions. President Marcos also recently expressed openness to forging a visiting forces agreement with Japan to boost maritime security.

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