Chinese troops armed with axes, knives, attack Filipino navy boats in South China Sea

According to Filipino officials, the Chinese personnel attacked the boats to prevent the Philippine navy troops from transferring food and other supplies, including firearms, to Filipino troops stationed in Second Thomas Shoal, which is claimed by Beijing.
Chinese troops armed with axes, knives, attack Filipino navy boats in South China Sea
Photo: X

Chinese coast guard personnel on board over eight motorboats repeatedly rammed two Philippine navy inflatable boats in a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, boarded and damaged their vessels with machetes, knives and hammers, in a fresh round of confrontation between two countries.

According to Filipino officials, the Chinese personnel attacked the boats to prevent the Philippine navy troops from transferring food and other supplies, including firearms, to Filipino troops stationed on the Second Thomas Shoal, which is claimed by Beijing.

After the argument and repeated collisions, Chinese coast guard personnel jumped on board the Philippine navy vessels and seized eight M4 rifles, which were packed in cases, navigation equipment and other supplies, two Filipino security officials told The Associated Press.

They also clashed with several Filipino navy personnel, injuring several of them, including one who lost his right thumb, security officials said.

Videos posted by the Philippine military show the Chinese troops pointing their knives at the Filipino navy personnel and their ships surrounding two Philippine navy supply boats. Sirens are heard blaring as both troops yell at each other. The Chinese personnel smash the Filipino boats with a pole and grab them with what appeared to be a bag with a stick.

Gen Romeo Brawner Jr, the head of the Philippine armed forces, likened the Chinese troops as "pirates" for their actions and demanded them to return their rifles and equipment they took during the skirmish.

"We are demanding that the Chinese return our rifles and our equipment and we are also demanding that they pay for the damage they caused," Brawner Jr said at a press conference in the Philippines' western Palawan province, where he pinned a medal on an injured navy officer as a mark of his bravery.

"They boarded our boats illegally and seized our equipment. They’re now like pirates with these kinds of actions," he said.

Brawner Jr praised the fightback shown by the Filipino navy troops despite being outnumbered, saying they resisted the blows of Chinese personnel, who were armed with knives and machetes, with "bare hands" and pushed them back.

"The Chinese Coast Guard personnel had bladed weapons and our personnel fought with bare hands. We were outnumbered and their weapons were unexpected but our personnel fought with everything that they had," he wrote in a statement on Facebook on Wednesday.

"Our objective is also to prevent war," he further said.

The Philippine Foreign Ministry, in a statement, "denounced the illegal and aggressive actions of Chinese authorities that resulted in personnel injury and vessel damage".

Responding to the incident, China, however, blamed the Philippines for the skirmish, asserting that Filipino navy troops "trespassed" into the shoal despite the Chinese Coast Guard's repeated warnings.

"This is the direct cause of the incident. The Chinese coast guard at the scene has taken professional law-enforcement measures with restraint aimed at stopping the illegal supply mission by the Philippine vessels and no direct measures were taken against the Philippine personnel," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said at a press briefing in Beijing.

On the other hand, the US, which has a contentious relationship with China, said it was obligated to defend the Philippines, Washington's ally.

Second Thomas Shoal, also known as Ayungin Shoal, is a submerged reef in the Spratly Islands of the South China Sea, which is claimed by China in total. Other countries, including Taiwan, and Vietnam, also have territorial claims on the busy waterway.

The Philippine Navy maintains a presence on the Second Thomas Shoal by stationing less than a dozen marine personnel on the 100-metre-long World War II-era Philippine Navy landing craft 'Sierra Madre', which was deliberately run aground at the atoll in 1999 in response to China's reclamation of Mischief Reef.

The Philippines claims that the atoll is part of its continental shelf, while parts of the Spratly group of islands, where the Second Thomas Shoal lies, are claimed by China, Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

Source: India Today

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