The Philippines Accuses China of Using Bladed Weapons in Dangerous New South China Sea Confrontation

    by Sidney Hunt
    Published: June 20, 2024 (1 month ago)

    Tensions in the South China Sea have escalated dramatically as the Philippines accused China of using bladed weapons in a recent maritime confrontation. The incident, which occurred in the contested waters near the Spratly Islands, marks a dangerous new escalation in the ongoing territorial disputes in the region.

    The Incident

    According to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), the confrontation took place on June 18, 2024, when a Chinese maritime militia vessel allegedly harassed a Philippine fishing boat. The PCG reported that Chinese crew members wielded bladed weapons, including machetes, during the encounter, threatening the Filipino fishermen and attempting to damage their vessel.

    “This is an unprecedented and alarming escalation,” said Commodore Armand Balilo, PCG spokesperson. “The use of bladed weapons against our fishermen is a clear act of aggression and a violation of international law.”

    International Response

    The Philippine government has lodged a formal diplomatic protest with Beijing, calling the incident a “grave provocation” and demanding an immediate investigation. Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. condemned the actions and called for international support in addressing China’s aggressive behavior in the disputed waters.

    “This incident is not just an attack on the Philippines but a threat to all nations that value freedom of navigation and the rule of law,” Locsin stated. “We call on our allies and the international community to join us in condemning this reckless and dangerous conduct.”

    The United States, a key ally of the Philippines, expressed strong support for Manila. “We stand with the Philippines in its efforts to uphold the rules-based international order and maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea,” said U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

    China’s Response

    China’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the accusations as “groundless” and accused the Philippines of provoking the incident. “The Chinese vessel was conducting normal patrol activities in waters under China’s jurisdiction,” said ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin. “We urge the Philippines to cease its provocations and respect China’s sovereignty and maritime rights.”

    China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, a vital waterway through which trillions of dollars in trade pass annually, under its so-called “nine-dash line.” These claims overlap with those of several Southeast Asian nations, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei.

    Escalating Tensions

    This latest incident underscores the growing volatility in the South China Sea, where similar confrontations have become increasingly common. In recent years, China has intensified its efforts to assert control over the region, constructing artificial islands and militarizing them with runways, radar systems, and missile installations.

    The Philippines has repeatedly protested China’s actions, and the two nations have engaged in numerous diplomatic spats. Despite a 2016 ruling by an international tribunal in The Hague, which invalidated China’s expansive claims, Beijing has continued its activities unabated.

    Calls for Diplomatic Solutions

    Amid the rising tensions, there are growing calls for renewed diplomatic efforts to resolve the disputes peacefully. ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, has urged all parties to exercise restraint and engage in dialogue to prevent further escalation.

    “We need to find a sustainable and peaceful solution to the disputes in the South China Sea,” said ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi. “The use of force and intimidation only serves to heighten tensions and undermine regional stability.”


    The accusation that China used bladed weapons in a maritime confrontation with the Philippines marks a significant and dangerous escalation in the South China Sea disputes. As the international community watches closely, the incident underscores the urgent need for diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions and uphold the rule of law in one of the world’s most strategically important regions.

    With both nations standing firm in their positions, the path to a peaceful resolution remains fraught with challenges. However, the stakes are too high for inaction, and the coming days will be crucial in determining whether cooler heads can prevail in the volatile waters of the South China Sea.

    HTML tutorial