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China Coast Guard accused of acting like pirates in South China Sea

The Philippines has accused the China Coast Guard of behaving like pirates during a recent confrontation at Second Thomas Shoal in the contentious South China Sea.

General Romeo Brawner, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, detailed the incident on June 17, where Filipino soldiers attempted to resupply personnel stationed on the Sierra Madre, grounded on the reef since 1999.

In a statement on Facebook, Brawner described how Chinese Coast Guard personnel wielded bladed weapons, leading to a physical altercation where Filipino personnel defended themselves with bare hands despite being outnumbered.

The Philippines reported one sailor severely injured and damage to their boats. Brawner condemned the Chinese Coast Guard’s actions as piracy, stating that such behaviors involved boarding, theft, and destruction, which only pirates typically engage in.

Second Thomas Shoal, located within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), approximately 195 kilometers from Palawan, has become a focal point of tensions as China seeks to disrupt Philippine missions to the Sierra Madre.

In response, Beijing refuted allegations of misconduct, asserting their actions were lawful efforts to prevent what they deemed an illegal resupply mission.

Chinese spokesman Lin Jian defended their stance at a Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefing, accusing the Philippines of unauthorized transfers, including construction materials and weaponry, to the Sierra Madre. He urged Manila to cease provocations and abide by international law.

China’s expansive claims over the South China Sea, contested by an international tribunal in 2016, continue to provoke regional disputes despite legal rulings. China has bolstered its presence with coastguard, maritime militia, and fishing fleets, recently enforcing a law allowing lethal force against foreign ships in disputed waters.

The Philippines’ Foreign Ministry condemned China’s actions as illegal and aggressive, emphasizing the need for sincerity and adherence to international norms for constructive dialogue on maritime disputes under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

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