Home China Philippines Says Troops Did Not Aim Weapons At Chinese Coast Guard

Philippines Says Troops Did Not Aim Weapons At Chinese Coast Guard


Philippine troops stationed on a warship grounded at a disputed South China Sea shoal held on to their weapons during a tense encounter with Chinese coast guard boats. However, they did not point their guns at the Chinese vessels, military officials clarified on Tuesday.

Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Romeo Brawner disputed China’s state CCTV account of the incident. The incident occurred on May 19 during a routine resupply mission for Filipino troops.

CCTV reported that at least two Filipino personnel aimed their guns at the Chinese coast guard during the confrontation at the BRP Sierra Madre, a vessel grounded on Second Thomas Shoal in 1999 and turned into a garrison.

Brawner explained that the troops prepared for self-defence due to the proximity of the Chinese coast guard boats, which he described as “provocative.” He emphasised that no guns were deliberately aimed at the Chinese vessels.

Military officials reported that Chinese rigid hull inflatable boats came within five to 10 metres of the Sierra Madre and seized some of the supplies air-dropped for the troops. These actions were deemed illegal and unacceptable by the Philippine military.

Nitin A Gokhale WhatsApp Channel

“This was a cause of alarm. So our soldiers, as a precautionary measure, held on to their firearms. It is part of the rules of engagement,” Brawner stated. He reiterated that while the soldiers were armed, they did not point their guns at the Chinese boats.

Brawner also noted that the Sierra Madre, a World War II-era warship, is a commissioned vessel of the Philippine navy and is therefore authorised to have weapons. “We have the right to defend ourselves,” he said, adding that the Philippines would continue to assert its sovereignty in the area.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, including Second Thomas Shoal. The area is patrolled by hundreds of Chinese vessels, including what Manila refers to as the “Chinese maritime militia.” These vessels were also present on May 19.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning accused the Philippines of illegal actions at the shoal, which China calls Ren’ai Reef. “On this issue, the Philippines is the one who makes frequent infringements and provocations,” Mao Ning said. She asserted that the Philippines’ actions are escalating the situation and are unacceptable to China.

With Inputs From Reuters