Chinese envoy says no military-grade laser in Ayungin incident

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 17 2023 06:40 PM

MANILA -- Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian reiterated Friday that the Chinese Coast Guard did not use a military-grade laser in an encounter with the Philippine Coast Guard in Ayungin Shoal last February 6.

Huang showed Philippine journalists on Friday photos of the kind of hand-held laser speed detector and greenlight pointer allegedly used by Chinese Coast Guard, saying these are readily available online.

“What they used was the kind of hand-held laser speed detector to detect the speed and the distance of the ship and the other one they use is greenlight pointer as you use in the classroom actually," he said. 

"So that’s we have explained and of course there was no intention to harm any person from the Philippine side; we are friendly countries,” he added.

As for the Philippine Coast Guard crew getting temporarily blinded by the use of laser, Huang said: “I was very saddened to hear that but as I said those are not military grade lasers which does not inflict damage of any either personnel or any goods.”

Huang called for strengthening of communication and dialogue mechanisms as he noted the lack of communication mechanism between maritime related authorities and law enforcement, lack of mutual understanding and trust between two countries’ frontliners at sea.

“Both sides should exercise restraint and refrain from taking any unilateral and provocative action. You know at the end of the day that water is a disputed area. So in order to avoid such instance, I think both sides need to exercise restraint and refrain from taking any unilateral action,” he said.

The Philippines, however, does not consider the area disputed, as Ayungin Shoal lies within the country's exclusive economic zone as also ruled by the 2016 arbitral ruling but which China refuses to recognize.

Following the Ayungin Shoal incident, Huang was summoned last Tuesday February 14 by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., "to express his serious concern over the increasing frequency and intensity of actions by China against the Philippine Coast Guard and our Filipino fishermen in their bancas," according to Malacañang.

Huang described that meeting as fruitful and "constructive" where he spoke of the consensus reached by the two countries' leaders during Marcos' recent state visit to China.

“It would be very timely for us to implement those consensus including the consensus to manage differences through proper manner, peaceful means, thru friendly consultations including not to allow differences to define our overall bilateral relations including how to strengthen our communication mechanisms including existing ones and new ones.”

The envoy also jestingly referred to his being summoned recently by Marcos in opening his speech at the New Era University's formal launching of China Studies Center.

“It is a great pleasure to be invited to address this event instead of being summoned,” he said.