On February 14, the Philippine government filed a diplomatic protest against China after a Chinese coast guard vessel pointed a military-grade laser at the Philippine Navy ship BRP Malapascua in the West Philippine Sea. The incident occurred earlier that day.
The protest was delivered to the Chinese embassy on Tuesday, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Spokesperson Teresita Daza. This came a day after the Philippine Coast Guard made the incident that occurred near Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal public.
“Shadowing, harassment, risky movements, directing of military-grade laser, and illegal radio challenges by CCG (China Coast Guard) vessel 5205 against PCG vessel BRP Malapascua on 6 February 2023,” the Philippines alleged in their protest, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
According to information that was provided to the media by the PRC Coast Guard, a China Coast Guard vessel with the bow number 5205 pointed a military-grade laser light at the BRP Malapascua on two separate occasions, “causing temporary blindness to her crew at the bridge.”
A Philippine Navy resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal, where the Philippine Navy’s BRP Sierra Madre lies aground as a permanent outpost, was being supported by the Philippine Coast Guard ship while it was out in the West Philippine Sea.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) stated that China’s actions against the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) posed a threat to the sovereignty and security of the Philippines. Furthermore, the DFA stated that these actions violated Manila’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea.
The exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf of the Philippines include the underwater marine feature known as Ayungin Shoal, which is located 167 kilometers away from Palawan.
The fact that the incident was reported gives evidence that lasers were used by China in the South China Sea. Following an incident in February of the previous year in which a Chinese navy vessel directed a laser at an Australian military surveillance aircraft, Australia leveled allegations of a “act of intimidation” against Beijing.