“Only pirates do this”: Philippines accuses China of using bladed weapons in major South China Sea escalation

Hong KongCNN — 

The Philippines has accused China’s Coast Guard of launching a “brutal assault” with bladed weapons during a South China Sea clash earlier this week, a major escalation in a festering dispute that threatens to drag the United States into another global conflict.

Footage released by the Philippine military on Thursday showed Chinese coast guard officers brandishing an axe and other bladed or pointed tools at the Filipino soldiers and slashing their rubber boat, in what Manila called “a brazen act of aggression.”

The Philippines and China have blamed each other for the confrontation near the Second Thomas Shoal in the contested Spratly Islands on Monday, which took place during a Philippine mission to resupply its soldiers stationed on a beached World War II-era warship that asserts Manila’s territorial claims over the atoll.

The incident is the latest in a series of increasingly fraught confrontations in the resource-rich and strategically important waterway.

But the scenes captured in the latest footage mark an inflection point in the long-simmering tensions, with China adopting new, far more openly aggressive tactics that, analysts say, appear calculated to test how the Philippines and its key defense ally – the United States – will respond.


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