China found itself again in hot waters after it seized the rocket debris from a Philippine ship that managed to recover them from disputed waters.
The incident occurred near Thitu island, part of the disputed Spratly region. As per the BBC’s report, the Philippine Navy’s boats were blocked and intimidated by the Chinese Naval vessels as they cut a towing line that the Philippine officers used to drag the object onto the vessel.
The Vice Admiral of the Philippine Navy, Admiral Alberto Carlos, said that the Chinese Navy blocked [the Filipinos’] pre-plotted course twice” and then “forcefully retrieved” the object confirmed to be from China’s Long March 5B heavy-lift rocket, which became the latest in a long string of debris liberations from spacecrafts made by the People’s Republic. Why did the Philippines sailors not retaliate? The Vice Admiral said to this that “it was not a matter of life and death”.
China has denied the Philippine version of the incident. It maintains that the matter was solved via “friendly consultation.” What adds spice to the drama is that this legendary altercation occurred when the American VP Kamala Harris is visiting the island nation.
Without nominating China in particular, the American VP said the US is against the “intimidation and coercion” that occurs around the disputed Spratly Islands.
This is not the first time space debris from Chinese rockets has caused an international uproar. It would also not be wrong to assume that this would not be the last, as it is already being said that the Long March 6A rocket broke apart into 50 pieces right after it entered orbit. In the future, it is tough to guess if the debris will fall; one can hope not in disputed territory or waters this time.