United States

FACT CHECK: Video of ‘destruction’ of US ship based on fake Reuters report


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FACT CHECK: Video of ‘destruction’ of US ship based on fake Reuters report
China allegedly destroyed a US ship in the South China Sea, but there are no statements or reports from the US Coast Guard confirming the claim.

Claim: The Chinese Navy destroyed a United States Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) vessel in the South China Sea, according to a Reuters report.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The YouTube video containing the claim has 44,575 views, as of writing. 

What the video said: The title of the YouTube video says: “War begins! China warships destroys US coast guard in south china sea.”

The video’s caption states that the USCGC Munro (WMSL-755) was “conducting a routine patrol in the disputed waters when it was intercepted by a China warship.”

It also cites a Reuters report titled “The China Navy Intercepts US Coast Guard in South China Sea” as the source of its information. 

Fake report: The Reuters report cited in the video does not exist. Using Advanced Google search, Rappler found no Reuters articles bearing the claim. 

There are also no statements or reports from the official Facebook pages of the US Coast Guard and USCGC Munro confirming the supposed incident. There were no articles from news organizations about the alleged altercation between the two countries either.

Recent transit in South China Sea: There are no recent reports of the USCGC Munro patrolling the South China Sea. In March 2023, the vessel returned to its home base in Alameda after a 105-winter patrol in the Bering Sea.

The latest US vessel that passed through the South China Sea was the Legend-class national security cutter USCGC Stratton (WMSL 752), which conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit on June 20, the US Navy’s 7th Fleet said in a statement.  

There were no mentions of the USCGC Munro in the statement, and it also didn’t say that the USCGC Stratton was attacked. 

Tense encounters: There have been several tense encounters between US and Chinese ships in the South China Sea, but neither had destroyed a ship. On June 4, 2023, a Chinese warship came within 137 meters of US guided-missile destroyer Chung-Hoon in the Taiwan Strait during a joint exercise by the US and Canadian navies, a Reuters report said. Following the incident, China accused the US of “provoking bloc confrontation for self-interest” in the region.

The South China Sea has been a flashpoint for tensions in the region as China increasingly asserts its claim over the waterway vital to global trade, amid rival claims from neighboring countries including the Philippines.

The US has supported the Philippines in its maritime dispute with China, with US President Joe Biden saying that Washington’s commitment to defending its treaty ally was “ironclad.”  – Lorenz Pasion/Rappler.com

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