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FACT CHECK: Video of China’s South China Sea missile drills not new


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FACT CHECK: Video of China’s South China Sea missile drills not new
Old footage from a Chinese military drill is used in a video that falsely suggests the missile firing was held recently amid heightened maritime tensions with the Philippines

Claim: China recently launched missiles into the South China Sea. 


Why we fact-checked this: The claim was made in the title and caption of a Facebook video posted on August 11 which has garnered 130,000 views, 946 comments, and 4,700 reactions as of writing. The video is reposted content, with the original uploaded to YouTube on May 31, 2022.

The video bears the caption, “China Nagpaputok Ng Ibat Ibang Mga Missiles Sa South China Sea” (China fired various missiles into the South China Sea).

Its thumbnail and description say: “China, Naghahamon na nga ba talaga? nagpakita ng pwersa at Nagpaputok Ng Ibat Ibang Mga Missiles Sa South China Sea…” 

(Is China really trying to be provocative? It demonstrated force and fired various missiles into the South China Sea.)

The Facebook video implies that the missile firing was held recently. It was uploaded six days after the blocking and water cannon incident in the West Philippine Sea that heightened tensions between the Philippines and China. 

The facts: The footage of China’s missile firing was from a combat-oriented exercise in the South China Sea held last May 2023. Although the video’s narration provided context, saying the missile launch was part of a military drill, it omitted mentioning when it was held – vital information that could mislead audiences into thinking that it was conducted recently. This detail was not provided in any part of the video post.

About the drill: A flotilla of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy, led by a 10,000-ton-class missile destroyer, conducted coordinated training and combat-oriented exercises in the South China Sea for more than 80 hours last May, a report from Chinese state-backed publication Global Times said.

According to the CCTV Video News Agency, the drills aimed to test new tactics and training methods. Among the exercises conducted were sea assaults, coordinated air defense, and joint anti-submarine operations. 

Recent tensions: The timing of the video’s upload comes several days after China’s latest act of hostility against the Philippines. On August 5, a Chinese coast guard vessel blocked and fired water cannons at Philippine vessels heading to Ayungin Shoal during a recent resupply mission. (READ: [ANALYSIS] Flashpoints in the Philippines-China relationship)

The incident has heightened tensions between the two countries, as China claimed “illegal actions” in the South China Sea, while the Philippines continues to assert the legality of its activities in Ayungin, given the 2016 arbitral ruling in its favor.

Rappler has debunked false claims related to activities in Ayungin Shoal:

 – Ailla Dela Cruz/Rappler.com

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. You may also report dubious claims to #FactsFirstPH tipline by messaging Rappler on Facebook or Newsbreak via Twitter direct message. You may also report through our Viber fact check chatbot. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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