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FACT CHECK: No US warship deployed to confront Chinese vessel in West Philippine Sea

Rappler.com

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FACT CHECK: No US warship deployed to confront Chinese vessel in West Philippine Sea
There are no official reports about the deployment of the USS Milius following the near-collision of Chinese and Philippine coast guard ships last April.

Claim: A video claims that the US Navy deployed the guided-missile destroyer USS Milius to confront a Chinese vessel that almost crashed with a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) patrol ship.

According to the video, the  US warship warned that it would not hesitate to use force against the Chinese coast guard ship if it continues to block PCG vessels.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The Facebook video posted on May 6 has 335,000 views, 7,600 likes, and 209 shares from a page with 32,634 followers as of writing.

The bottom line: While the video claims the incident occurred “last week,” the near-collision happened last April 23, when the BRP Malapascua and BRP Malabrigo were intercepted by Chinese coast guard vessels in the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal.

No US warship deployed: Contrary to the video’s claim, no US warship was deployed following the incident. There have been no reports from the US Navy about such a deployment, nor was a US warship seen in images released by the PCG from its seven-day maritime patrol in the West Philippine Sea from April 18 to 24.

The Facebook video also uses several images from an Associated Press report. Image descriptions in the report did not mention the US Navy nor any of its warships.

Routine operations: The USS Milius conducted a freedom of navigation mission near Mischief Reef last April 10. On March 24, it sailed near the Paracel Islands for “routine operations.” Both were conducted in the South China Sea and weeks before the PCG’s incident with the Chinese Coast Guard.

China has repeatedly denounced these voyages as “illegal” as it seeks to advance its claims in the South China Sea. The US has been shoring up alliances and challenging China’s assertiveness in the contested waters.

Rappler has recently fact-checked false claims related to the military, including claims involving China:

– Kyle Marcelino/Rappler.com

Kyle Marcelino is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.
Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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