OAN Geraldyn Berry
2:02 PM PT – Wednesday, February 15, 2023
According to the State Department, following claims that Beijing’s Coast Guard used laser weapons to temporarily blind the crew of a Philippine Coast Guard ship, the United States has warned that it will stand with and defend the Philippines.
This comes as the Philippines has claimed that China had interfered with a resupply operation to a disputed shoal in the South China Sea by using a “military grade” laser light.
Ned Price, the spokesperson for the State Department spoke out about the “provocative and unsafe” practices of China.
“More broadly, the PRC’s dangerous operational behavior directly threatens regional peace and stability, infringes upon freedom of navigation in the South China Sea as guaranteed under international law, and undermines the rules-based international order,” Price said.
The BRP Malapascua’s crew claimed that the laser weapons temporarily blinded them as they navigated near Second Thomas Shoal, a submerged reef in the South China Sea where the U.S. contends China has “no valid maritime claims.”
The delivery of food and supplies to military personnel aboard the BRP Sierra Madre, a ship purposefully grounded on the shoal, was blocked by the Chinese vessel, according to the Philippines Coast Guard, who also “made dangerous maneuvers” in the water. The Philippines claims this was done in “a blatant disregard for, and a clear violation of, Philippine sovereign rights.”