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FACT CHECK: Video shows New Zealand oil spill, not US attack on Chinese ship


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FACT CHECK: Video shows New Zealand oil spill, not US attack on Chinese ship
The footage of MV Rena was spliced together with unrelated clips of B-52 bombers, ships, and firing of missiles to fit the claim narrated in the video

Claim: A video shows a United States Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber attacking a Chinese cargo ship in the Taiwan Strait. 

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The claim was made in a YouTube video posted by an account with 114,000 subscribers. The video has already garnered 28,126 views as of writing.

The video is titled: “China Panic! US B-52 Bomber Fire B83-1 Nuclear Gravity Bombs Aimed China Cargo Ship in Taiwan Strait.” 

Oil spill footage, not attack: Using advanced Google Image Search, Rappler found that the misleading video used old footage by the World Wildlife Fund showing an oil spill from the container ship MV Rena, which struck Astrolabe Reef in New Zealand on October 5, 2011. The footage of MV Rena was attached to clips of unrelated B-52 bombers, various other vessels, and firing of missiles to fit the video’s narration.

There are also no official reports from the US Air Force, US Department of Defense, and the media confirming that the US government deployed a B-52 bomber to attack a Chinese cargo ship in the Taiwan Strait.

B-52 bombers deployment: The latest official report regarding the US deployment of B-52 bombers in the Indo Pacific was a July 12 press release by the Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs. According to the press release, US Air Force B-52 Stratofortresses from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, landed at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam on July 5. The US Air Force Facebook page also posted about the event on August 6.

Flashpoint in US-China relations: Beijing claims Taiwan as part of its territory, while Taiwan rejects these sovereignty claims. Washington is Taiwan’s most important arms supplier, and recently unveiled a weapons aid package worth up to $345 million for the democratically governed island.

The timing of the video’s upload comes just a few days after Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said 103 Chinese military aircraft were spotted crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, which is considered an unofficial barrier between the two sides. This was quickly followed by a US Department of Defense press release on September 19 saying that they are “strengthening deterrence” in the Taiwan Strait.

False claims: Rappler has fact-checked videos on claims regarding military encounters of countries against China:

– Lorenz Pasion/Rappler.com

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