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Filipino soldiers had to use their bare hands to fight off Chinese coast guards with swords, a general said

A photo from March 2024 showing a China coast guard vessel sailing near the Philippine militaryA photo from March 2024 shows a China coast guard vessel sailing near the Philippine military chartered vessel Unaizah.

Getty/JAM STA ROSA

  • Filipino soldiers defended themselves against an attack by Chinese coast guard, a general said.
  • One soldier reportedly lost a thumb while others were injured and boats were damaged.
  • Beijing denied responsibility, but US and Philippines officials criticized China.

Filipino soldiers had to defend themselves with bare hands against Chinese coast guard armed with swords and knives, according to the Philippines.

The Chinese coast guard personnel reportedly rammed their vessels into boats belonging to the Philippines on Monday, and boarded and attacked them, the BBC reported, leaving some injured and one soldier having lost a thumb.

General Romeo Brawner, the Philippines’ top military commander, criticized China for what he described as “reckless and aggressive” behavior while the Philippines navy and coast guard were delivering supplies to Filipino soldiers in the disputed South China Sea.

In a statement posted online, Brawner said: “The Chinese coast guard has no right or legal authority to interfere with our legitimate operations or damage our assets within our Exclusive Economic Zone.”

He said the incident “constitutes a blatant violation of international maritime law, Philippine sovereignty, and sovereign rights.”

The Filipino army shared photos of the incident, showing damaged boats and Chinese personnel with blades.

Brawner said the Chinese coast guard’s actions posed “significant” risks to regional stability, but he added that the Philippines would work with its international partners to try to maintain peace in the region.

China’s actions have been condemned by other nations

The encounter is seen as the latest escalation in the disputed waters.

In April, video emerged of a Chinese ship colliding with a Philippine vessel while firing water cannons at it, as Business Insider’s Chris Panella reported at the time.

On Monday, US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson posted on X denouncing China’s “aggressive, dangerous maneuvers.”

A Philippine Coast Guard commodore, meanwhile, said that he believed China was trying to “provoke trouble.”

“They clearly hope that the US will also be agitated to justify their false narrative that Washington really wants to go to war against Beijing,” Jay Tarriela wrote.

However, Beijing denied taking “direct measures” against Filippino soldiers, and claimed the Philippines was responsible for the incident.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lin Jian said China had acted in accordance with the law.

“The maneuvers at the scene were professional, restrained, justified and lawful,” Lin said in a statement.

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