Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian has asserted that the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) ship did not use a military-grade laser against the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessel, saying it was only equipped with an ordinary laser that detects distance and speed.
Huang, who presented samples of ordinary lasers in a press briefing on Friday, Feb. 17, pointed out that the one used by their Coast Guard was similar to a “green-light pointer” that can be bought in online shops.
He stressed that the laser was only used to determine the speed and distance of the PCG vessel off Ayungin Shoal on Feb. 6 with no intention to harm any of its personnel.
“It was not a military-grade laser. Actually the Chinese Coast Guard ship is not equipped with military-grade lasers. What they used was just the kind of laser speed detector to detect the speed and the distance of a ship. Another one used is a green-light pointer as (those) you use in a classroom actually. And that’s what we have explained and of course we have no intention to harm any person,” Huang said.
This backed up Chinese Foreign Minister Spokesman Wang Wenbin’s statement on Feb. 15 that the CCG only used handheld device meant to check speed and intended for navigation safety.
Wang pointed out that the CCG did not direct the lasers to the PCG crew.
According to the PCG, a CCG vessel with bow number 5205 pointed the laser light towards BRP Malapascua (MRRV-4403) in Ayungin Shoal past 6 p.m. on Feb. 6 while it was supporting a rotation and resupply mission of the Philippine Navy.
The beaming of laser light has caused temporary blindness to the PCG crew, it added.
Aside from the laser-pointing action, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), in its diplomatic protest against CCG’s acts, also alleged the Chinese ship of shadowing, harassment, dangerous maneuvers, and illegal radio challenges.
‘Calm and tranquil’
While the Philippines and China have been exchanging disputes since the incident was made public on Feb. 13, Huang said the atmosphere in the West Philippine Sea has maintained a calm and tranquil situation.
“The coast guards have been communicating directly. Their situation at sea has maintained generally calm and tranquil,” the Chinese ambassador claimed.
He also conveyed that the two countries, given the newly-established communication mechanism, could communicate better in the future to prevent such incidents from happening again.
“Lack of communication leads to misunderstanding, and misunderstanding leads to misjudgment which sometimes causes some kind of friction.,” he said.
Huang also stressed that both sides must “exercise restraint and refrain from any unilateral actions” and solve issues in friendly consultations and “not to have the issue hyped up to escalate to such situation.”
The Chinese envoy also revealed that the two countries are also exploring some new and more communication mechanisms aside from the existing ones.
Huang was summoned by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Feb. 14 to convey his “serious concern” over China’s aggressive acts against the PCG and Filipino fishermen. — Betheena Unite
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