Chinese coast guard seizes rocket debris from Philippine navy

The Chinese coast guard forcibly seized rocket debris the Philippine navy was towing in a confrontation in the South China Sea, a Philippine official said.

MANILA, Philippines — The Chinese coast guard forcibly seized floating debris the Philippine navy was towing to its island in another confrontation in the disputed South China Sea, a Philippine military commander said Monday. The debris appeared to be from a Chinese rocket launch.

The Chinese vessel twice blocked the Philippine naval boat before seizing the debris it was towing Sunday off Philippine-occupied Thitu Island, Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos said Monday. He said no one was injured in the incident.

It’s the latest flare-up in long-seething territorial disputes in the strategic waterway, involving China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

Chinese coast guard ships have blocked Philippine supply boats delivering supplies to Filipino forces in the disputed waters in the past, but seizing objects in the possession of another nation’s military constituted a more brazen act.

Carlos said the Filipino sailors, using a long-range camera on Thitu island, spotted the debris drifting in strong waves near a sandbar about 800 yards away. They set out on a boat and retrieved the floating object and started to tow it back to their island using a rope tied to their boat.

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