Manila: The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has accused a China Coast Guard ship of pointing a "military grade" laser at some of its crew, temporarily blinding them, reported CNN. The incident took place in contested waters of South China last week.

The PCG vessel was supporting a rotation and resupply mission of the Philippine Navy in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea in the Spratly Islands chain, known in China as the Nansha Islands, China calls the shoal Renai Reef, on February 6.

The Chinese ship also "made dangerous maneuvers" in approaching within 150 yards (137 meters) of the Philippine vessel, the Philippine Coast Guard alleged in a statement posted on its official Facebook page, with photos purporting to show the laser's green beam, reported CNN.

The China Coast Guard (CCG) ship with bow No. 5205 illuminated a green light twice toward the BRP Malapascua, causing temporary blindness to crew members on duty at the bridge or main command center at past 6 p.m. as the ship reached 19.5 kilometers (10 nautical miles) from the shoal, the PCG said.

"The PCG condemns any actions that harm and jeopardize the safety of everyone regardless of nationality," PCG commandant Adm. Artemio Abu said.

The Chinese ship crossed the bow of the PCG ship at a distance of 7.4 km (4 nautical miles) as if to warn BRP Malapascua to stop or alter course.

Meanwhile, China's Foreign Ministry said Monday the Philippine vessel "trespassed into the waters of Renai Reef without the permission of the Chinese side," reported CNN.

"The Chinese maritime police vessel defended China's sovereignty and maritime order in accordance with China's domestic law and international law," spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, without specifying what action the Chinese side took.

Notably, China claims "indisputable sovereignty" over almost all of the 1.3 million square miles South China Sea, as well as most of the islands within it. That includes the Spratlys, an archipelago consisting of 100 small islands and reefs also claimed in full or part by the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

The Philippines calls the area the West Philippine Sea and in 1999 intentionally grounded a navy transport ship, the BRP Sierra Madre, on Second Thomas Shoal, which is still manned by Filipino marines to enforce Manila's claim to the area.

Beijing has been trying for years to prevent the Philippine Navy's resupply missions in Ayungin Shoal and has displayed new tactics over the past few months.

Except for the small wooden boats chartered by the Navy, the CCG has been preventing Philippine military and law enforcement vessels from entering the shoal.

The reported incidents, disclosed to the public for the first time, follow a pattern of Chinese forces harassing other countries with lasers.

Last year, the Australian government said a Chinese warship aimed its laser at a Royal Australian Air Force jet 105 km from Australia's northern coast. But China denied this.

In February 2022, Australia alleged a People's Liberation Army Navy warship "illuminated" an Australian P-8A aircraft, a reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare plane, as it was flying over the Arafura Sea, the body of water between Australia's Northern Territory and the island of New Guinea to the north.

At the time, China said the Australian claims were "not true," reported CNN.