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Chinese sailors wield knives, axe in disputed sea conflict with Philippines

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This body seize from handout video taken on June 17, 2024 and launched by the Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office on June 19 reveals China coast guard personnel (C) showing to wield bladed weapons throughout an incident off Second Thomas Shoal within the South China Sea. The Philippine army mentioned on June 19 the Chinese coast guard rammed and boarded Filipino navy boats in a violent confrontation within the South China Sea this week wherein a Filipino sailor misplaced a thumb. China defended its actions, with its international ministry saying on Wednesday that “no direct measures” had been taken in opposition to Filipino personnel.
| Photo Credit: AFP

Chinese coast guard sailors brandished knives, an axe and different weapons in a conflict with Philippine naval vessels close to a strategic reef within the South China Sea, dramatic new footage launched by Manila confirmed.

The conflict occurred Monday as Philippine forces tried to resupply marines stationed on a derelict warship that was intentionally grounded atop the disputed Second Thomas Shoal in 1999 to say Manila’s territorial claims.

It was the newest in a sequence of escalating confrontations between Chinese and Philippine ships in latest months as Beijing steps up efforts to push its claims to the disputed space.

Philippine army chief General Romeo Brawner mentioned the “outnumbered” Filipino crew had been unarmed and had fought with their “bare hands”.

A Filipino sailor misplaced a thumb within the conflict, wherein the Chinese coast guard confiscated or destroyed Philippine tools together with weapons, in keeping with the Philippine army.

Fresh footage launched by the Philippine army late Wednesday confirmed small boats crewed by Chinese sailors shouting, waving knives and utilizing sticks to hit an inflatable boat as a siren blares.

A voice talking Tagalog might be heard in a single clip saying somebody had “lost a finger”.

Manila’s footage of the conflict stands in stark distinction to pictures launched by Beijing’s state media on Wednesday, which didn’t present Chinese forces wielding weapons.

‘Violent confrontation’

Asked in regards to the movies on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian mentioned Manila’s feedback on the conflict had been “totally bogus accusations that confuse black with white”.

He blamed the Philippines for the confrontation, saying that they had “escalated tensions” and accused them of ramming Chinese boats.

Lin mentioned the Philippine boats had been attempting “to sneak in building materials, but also tried to smuggle in military equipment”.

Beijing has insisted that its coast guard behaved in a “professional and restrained” means and claimed “no direct measures” had been taken in opposition to Filipino personnel.

But in a clip shared by Manila, a Chinese sailor standing on the deck of one of many boats can clearly be seen waving an axe.

Another reveals a Chinese coast guard sailor putting the inflatable boat with a stick. A second man will also be seen stabbing the boat with a knife.

The Philippines army mentioned an axe-wielding sailor had “threatened to injure” a Filipino soldier, whereas others had been “explicitly threatening to harm” Filipino troops.

This frame grab from handout video taken on June 17, 2024 and released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office on June 19 shows China coast guard boats (L) approaching Philippine boats (C) during an incident off Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea. The Philippine military said on June 19 the Chinese coast guard rammed and boarded Filipino navy boats in a violent confrontation in the South China Sea this week in which a Filipino sailor lost a thumb. China defended its actions, with its foreign ministry saying on Wednesday that “no direct measures” were taken against Filipino personnel.

This body seize from handout video taken on June 17, 2024 and launched by the Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office on June 19 reveals China coast guard boats (L) approaching Philippine boats (C) throughout an incident off Second Thomas Shoal within the South China Sea. The Philippine army mentioned on June 19 the Chinese coast guard rammed and boarded Filipino navy boats in a violent confrontation within the South China Sea this week wherein a Filipino sailor misplaced a thumb. China defended its actions, with its international ministry saying on Wednesday that “no direct measures” had been taken in opposition to Filipino personnel.
| Photo Credit:
AFP

“The [Chinese coast guard] personnel then began hurling rocks and other objects at our personnel,” Manila mentioned.

“They also slashed the [inflatable boats], rendering them inoperable.”

The Filipino sailors, sporting brown camouflage with helmets and vests, aren’t carrying weapons within the clips.

“Amidst this violent confrontation, the CCG [Chinese coast guard] also deployed tear gas, intensifying the chaos and confusion, while continuously blaring sirens to further disrupt communication,” the caption mentioned.

Manila has accused Beijing of an “act of piracy” in opposition to its forces.

It has additionally demanded the return of things “looted” by the Chinese facet, together with seven weapons, and reparations for broken tools.

‘Perilous’ state of affairs

Analysts say Beijing is escalating confrontations with the Philippines in a bid to push it out of the South China Sea.

Jay Batongbacal, director for the Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea in Manila, advised AFP that China’s forces may very well be poised to grab the grounded Philippine warship, the Sierra Madre.

“The deployment of their forces at present around the Sierra Madre and then the many reefs around the Kalayaan island group is indicative that they’re ready to do it,” he mentioned, referring to Manila-claimed areas within the Spratly Islands.

The United States has mentioned that “an armed attack” in opposition to Philippine public vessels, plane, armed forces and coastguard wherever within the South China Sea would require it to return to Manila’s defence as a treaty ally.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken “emphasized that (China’s) actions undermine regional peace and stability” in a name along with his Philippine counterpart Enrique A. Manalo on Wednesday, in keeping with the State Department.

Blinken mentioned additionally they “underscored the United States’ ironclad commitments to the Philippines under our Mutual Defense Treaty”.

Another analyst mentioned the clashes “brought us perilously close” to a degree the place the United States could be required to intervene militarily.

“The Philippines will likely need to continue resupply missions to the Sierra Madre, one way or another,” mentioned Duan Dang, a Vietnam-based maritime safety analyst.

“Backing down and accepting Beijing’s terms regarding these operations would mean relinquishing sovereign rights within its Exclusive Economic Zone,” he mentioned.

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