China has denied that its coast guard pointed lasers at the crew of the BRP Malapascua while the latter was on a resupply mission on February 6 in waters off the Ayungin Shoal.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin at his regular press conference on Wednesday said the Philippines' allegations did "not reflect the truth."
Wang reiterated his earlier remarks that the Philippine Coast Guard vessel "intruded" into the waters and that the Chinese coast guard "was compelled to respond in accordance with law and warned the vessel to leave the area."
"During that process, the China Coast Guard ship used hand-held laser speed detector and hand-held greenlight pointer to measure the distance and speed of the Philippine vessel and signal directions to ensure navigation safety," Wang said.
"We need to highlight the fact that the China Coast Guard ship did not direct lasers at the Philippine crew, and the hand-held equipment does not inflict damage on anything or anyone on the vessel," he added.
"The Philippine side’s allegation does not reflect the truth," Wang said.
The PCG has said that the light caused "temporary blindness" to the BRP Malapascua's crew at the bridge.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Monday called on the Chinese government to control its forces after the laser-pointing incident.
“The Secretary of National Defense has already declared or said that the act committed by the Coast Guard of China is offensive and unsafe,” AFP spokesperson Colonel Medel Aguilar told reporters.
Aguilar said this was the first time that the CCG directed a laser light at a PCG ship.
The Philippines on Tuesday protested China’s use of military-grade lasers, and dangerous maneuvers, against the BRP Malapascua which was on a resupply mission for Filipino troops in Ayungin Shoal.
In a protest lodged by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Manila called out China’s Coast Guard for its “latest aggressive activities", heightening tensions anew between the two Asian neighbors locked in yearslong territorial disputes in the resource-rich waters.
“The diplomatic protest, released to the Chinese Embassy in Manila on 14 February 2023, condemned the shadowing, harassment, dangerous maneuvers, directing of military-grade laser, and illegal radio challenges by CCG vessel 5205 against PCG vessel BRP Malapascua on 6 February 2023,” a DFA statement said.
Wang on Wednesday said the Chinese ambassador to the Philippines "has clarified the facts with Philippine leaders."
"The diplomatic service and coast guards on both sides are in communication through bilateral liaison mechanisms. The Philippine side has learned what actually happened," Wang said.
"We stand ready to work with the Philippine side to fully deliver on the important common understandings reached between the two presidents, continue to properly handle maritime issues through friendly consultation and jointly uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea," he added. —NB, GMA Integrated News