Fact checks about countries

FACT CHECK: PH, US did not attack Chinese warships in West PH Sea


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FACT CHECK: PH, US did not attack Chinese warships in West PH Sea
Chinese vessels shadowed the joint maritime patrols by the Philippines and US, but there were no reports of any untoward incidents

Claim: The Philippines and the United States attacked two suspicious Chinese warships during a joint patrol in the West Philippine Sea.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The YouTube video bearing the claim has 43,759 views, 826 likes, and 27 comments as of writing. It was posted on January 6 by a channel notorious for dubious claims about maritime activities in the South China Sea.

The video’s title bears the claim: “Tension Rises! U.S., Philippine Navy hit Chinese Warships Eavesdrop in South China Sea.”

The bottom line: Two Chinese vessels were indeed seen shadowing Philippine and US ships during the two-day joint maritime patrol held from January 3 to 4, but neither side engaged in any offensive action. Patrol vessel BRP Ramon Alcaraz only issued a radio challenge to the Chinese vessels but received no response.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also confirmed the shadowing and said there were no untoward incidents during the maritime activity.

Maritime patrols: The joint Philippine-US patrols were underway when China’s military announced it would be conducting its “routine patrols” with its navy and air forces in the South China Sea, but did not give specific details. 

The maritime cooperative activity between the AFP and the United States Indo-Pacific Command was the second in less than two months in the West Philippine Sea, Manila’s term for waters in the South China Sea that fall within its exclusive economic zone.

China continues to assert sovereignty over the entire South China Sea, ignoring a tribunal ruling invalidating its claims, as tensions rise between Manila and Beijing. In 2023, the two countries traded accusations over several collisions and standoffs. (READ: Philippines ‘wargaming’ Chinese hostilities as sea standoffs intensify)

Unrelated ships: Aside from claiming that the Philippines was “uncovering Chinese warships’ suspicious activity” in the South China Sea, the misleading video did not provide much detail about the supposed encounter during the maritime patrols.

Instead, footage from unrelated vessels was shown while the narrator explained geopolitical tensions in the South China Sea. A video of artillery fire from the USS Harry S. Truman from April 2022 and Italian destroyer Andrea Doria (D-553) were included in the video for no reason.

Rappler has already published several fact-checks on false claims related to military activities:

– 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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