A statement from the Philippine Coast Guard says a Chinese vessel "illuminated the green laser light twice" and "also made dangerous maneuvers" to block a fleet of Philippine vessels from delivering supplies to another ship grounded at Second Thomas Shoal, also known as the Ayungin Shoal, a disputed island located 120 miles off the western coast of the Philippine island of Palawan.
According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, the Philippine vessel in question had "trespassed," resulting in the China Coast Guard responding "professionally and with restraint."
"We hope the Philippines will earnestly respect China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea and avoid any actions that may lead to the expansion of the dispute and complication of the situation," Wang added.
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The South China Sea is completely owned by China – at least this is how China itself sees things. It is completely militarized with naval ships as China aims to reclaim all of its islands as part of its military infrastructure.
Conflict lies in the fact that the Philippines has also laid claim to much of the South China Sea. Chinese aggression, Philippine leaders say, have made these waters dangerous, which is why the country has filed five diplomatic protests.
There have been previous attempts by the China Coast Guard to block or otherwise remove Philippine Coast Guard ships from using South China Sea waters. A similar blockade, minus the laser, occurred back in August during another resupply mission.
This latest incident represents the first time the China Coast Guard used lasers against the Philippine Coast Guard, says spokesman Commodore Armand Balilo – though China has reportedly used lasers elsewhere.
A United States military official reported at least 20 incidents where China used lasers against its enemies between September 2017 and June 2018. There was also a report in 2019 from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation claiming Chinese maritime militia vessels used lasers against Australian pilots, also in the South China Sea.
Last year, a transiting Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy vessel allegedly directed a military-grade laser at another Australian air force plane that was conducting coastal maritime surveillance in the Arafura Sea off its northern coast.
At the time, an Australian senator described the incident as "unquestionably an aggressive act, intended to intimidate." China, meanwhile, denied that the incident ever even occurred.
Tensions between China and much of the rest of the world, including the U.S., have escalated ever since American officials reported a global espionage operation involving the military use of balloons, one of which was shot down last week by the U.S. Air Force over South Carolina.
"It's time for the Chinese government to restrain its forces," said Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Col. Medel Aguilar in a statement to reporters. "So that it does not commit any provocative act that will endanger the lives of people."
In the comments, someone mentioned that green lasers from a Chinese satellite were reportedly seen over Hawaii this week.
"The Chinese seek to own the Philippines at the first chance they get," commented another. "I hope they realize how two-faced they really are."
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Sources for this article include: