Video shows armed Chinese coast guard confronting Filipino sailors

The Philippine military released a video showing armed Chinese coast guards in a violent altercation with members of the Philippine navy near a strategic atoll in the South China Sea, drawing reproaches from Beijing which accused Manila on Thursday for having “escalated tensions”.

The clash took place Monday during a resupply mission for Filipino soldiers stationed on a military ship stranded on the atoll Second Thomasaccording to Manila.

New images of the confrontation, released Wednesday evening by the Philippine army, show Chinese sailors shouting and brandishing knives and an ax from small boats, but also hitting an inflatable boat with sticks.

The Philippine military released a video showing armed Chinese coast guards in a violent altercation with its navy personnel.

Photo: Reuters / Philippine Army

Disputes at sea between China and the Philippines have increased in recent months, as Beijing redoubles its efforts to assert its territorial claims in this disputed maritime zone.

Armed threats

Gen. Romeo Brawner, chief of staff of the Philippine Army, said Wednesday that the outnumbered Filipino crew was unarmed and fought with bare hands.

A Filipino sailor lost a thumb in the incident, during which the Chinese coast guard confiscated or destroyed Filipino equipment, including firearms, according to the Philippine military.

The Chinese sailor armed with an ax had threatened to harm a Filipino soldier, while others explicitly threatened to harm to Philippine forces, Manila said.

Another footage shows a Chinese coast guard violently hitting an inflatable boat with a stick. A second man is also seen slashing the boat with a knife.

The Filipino sailors, dressed in brown camouflage outfits, helmets and vests, do not carry weapons in these videos.

The Beijing version

These images released by Philippine authorities contrast sharply with photos published Wednesday by Chinese state media, which did not show armed men.

Asked about this video, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Lin Jian, dismissed the allegations on Thursday. totally bogus from Manila and accused him of wanting slanderously reject responsibility for events in Beijing.

This operation led by the Philippines is in no way a supply of humanitarian materialsversion defended by Manila, he declared during a regular press conference.

These Philippine ships were carrying not only construction materials, but also weapons and equipment and deliberately rammed Chinese ships. These Filipino sailors also threw water and threw objects at Chinese law enforcement. These practices have obviously aggravated tensions at seahe stressed.

Manila accused Beijing of committing act of piracy against his forces. She demanded the return of the objects looted by the Chinese, including seven rifles, as well as compensation for damaged equipment.

Diplomatic storm in the China Sea

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.

Analysts believe that Beijing is increasing confrontations with the Philippines in an attempt to oust them from the South China Sea.

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Screenshot from video provided by the Philippine Coast Guard of a Philippine ship being targeted with water cannons by the Chinese Coast Guard as it attempted to approach the waters near Scarborough Shoal at sea of South China, Tuesday April 30, 2024.

Photo: Associated Press

According to Jay Batongbacal, director of the Institute of Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea in Manila, Chinese forces may be preparing to seize the Philippine ship stranded on the atoll Second Thomas.

The deployment of their forces around the Sierra Madre (the name of the building) and the numerous reefs around the Kalayaan Islands indicates that they are ready to do thishe said, referring to areas claimed by Manila in the islands Spratlys.

Senior Biden administration officials have repeatedly said that a armed attack against Philippine ships, aircraft, armed forces or coast guards anywhere in the South China Sea would trigger the application of the Mutual Defense Treaty.

In a call with his Philippine counterpart Enrique A. Manalo on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized that the actions [de la Chine] harm regional peace and stabilityaccording to the State Department.

Mr. Blinken also highlighted the United States’ steadfast commitment to the Philippines under our Mutual Defense Treaty.

In a statement released Thursday evening in Berlin, the German Foreign Ministry said observe with great concern China’s behavior in the South China Sea.

For Duan Dang, a maritime security analyst based in Vietnam, these clashes bring us dangerously close of a situation where the United States would be obliged to intervene militarily.

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