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FACT CHECK: No nuclear missile threat from US general against China


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FACT CHECK: No nuclear missile threat from US general against China
A YouTube video falsely claims that a high-ranking US military official threatened to use nuclear weapons against Beijing over its actions in the West Philippine Sea

Claim: General Mark Milley, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, threatened to fire nuclear missiles at China over its continued provocative actions in the West Philippine Sea.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The claim was made in an August 24 video which has garnered 42,889 views and 2,000 likes as of writing. The YouTube account that posted the video has 186,000 subscribers. 

The video is titled: “OMG! CHINA UULANIN NG MISSILE! US GENERAL NAGBABALA SA BANTA NG CHINA!” (OMG! Missiles will rain down on China! US general warns against China’s threat.)

At the 0:55-1:12 mark, a narrator claims that Milley supposedly warned China that Washington would not think twice about using nuclear weapons against Beijing if it continued its provocative actions in the West Philippine Sea. 

The facts: Upon checking the official US Joint Chiefs of Staff website and X (formerly Twitter) account, there is no statement from Milley threatening to rain down nuclear missiles on China, nor any comment regarding the West Philippine Sea dispute. 

No statements: Under US law, only the president has the authority to order a nuclear launch. Earlier this year, Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Representative Ted Lieu of California proposed a bill, the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act, that would prohibit the president from conducting a nuclear strike absent prior authorization from Congress, which has the sole power to declare war

Neither US President Joe Biden nor the US Congress has made statements regarding a nuclear strike order or a declaration of war against China. This debunks the video’s claim that the US is ready and willing to exhaust its nuclear weapons in an attack on China.  

US support for Manila: The US has previously expressed its support for Manila amid its maritime dispute with Beijing. On the seventh anniversary of the 2016 Hague ruling validating the Philippines’ claim over the West Philippine Sea, the US said China must end its “routine harassment” against Philippine vessels and abide by the arbitral tribunal decision.

Washington is also backing its ally over an act of Chinese harassment last August when Chinese coast guard vessels fired water cannons at Philippine ships en route to Ayungin Shoal for a routine resupply mission. In a statement, the US Department of State called Beijing’s dangerous maneuvers in the West Philippine Sea a threat to regional peace and stability.

During an official visit to Manila last month, US Senator Rick Scott said the Philippines will benefit from Washington’s $9-billion Pacific Deterrence Initiative which aims to counter China’s continued aggression in the Indo-Pacific. The initiative would entail new weapons and closer collaboration with US allies in the region. – Adrienne Juanengo/Rappler.com

Adrienne Juanengo is a 3rd year Legal Management student at De La Salle University, who is volunteering under Rappler’s Research Unit. 

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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