The Philippines has not attacked and destroyed any Chinese base near the Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea where 200 Chinese fishing vessels have recently been seen anchored.
The false alarmist claim was made twice in April by the YouTube channel USA Post through clickbait headlines that are unsupported by accompanying videos. The videos are also found on USA Post’s newly created Facebook page.
USA Post also created misleading thumbnails, which are composites of old photos unrelated to the West Philippine Sea, especially the latest incident.
Julian Felipe Reef, or Whitsun Reef, lies within the Pagkakaisa Banks, or Union Banks, within the Kalayaan Island Group in the disputed Spratly islands. It is within the country’s 327-km exclusive economic zone.
On April 3, USA Post, which says it posts the “latest videos of weapons, aircraft, tanks, ships, guns, artillery, vehicles, military operations and technologies itself,” ran the headline:
Brutal Attack: Philippines Navy destroy (sic) base for China fishing boat that built illegal (sic) in PH sea
Its April 6 headline reiterated the claim:
Philippine blast (sic) a base for China fishing boats secretly created to rob fish in PH Sea
The claim is baseless: The Philippines and China remain locked in a word war as of April 8.
USA Post's headlines were unsubstantiated by its videos. Instead, its two reports, which each runs for more than eight minutes, recycled a news account of CNN and a story of Nikkei Asia of the growing tension between China and the Philippines after an aerial patrol of the Armed Forces in late March detected illegal structures built on Pagkakaisa Banks.
More than 200 fishing boats allegedly operated by Chinese maritime militia personnel have massed at Julian Felipe Reef northeast of Pagkakaisa Banks, the military had added.
The thumbnail for the April 3 video is a composite of three photos, two of which were cloned to make it look like there were more vessels than there really were.
The fishing boats, set ablaze through the wonders of photo editing, are from a picture taken on Nov. 16, 2011 from a South Korean helicopter showing Chinese boats banded together with ropes being chased by South Korean’s Coast Guard aboard a chopper and rubber boats for alleged illegal fishing in South Korean waters in the Yellow Sea. The photo was taken by an Agence France Presse stringer and is available at Getty Images.
The gray ship in the foreground is not a Philippine vessel despite the flag it supposedly flies, but a Chinese naval ship—the Wuhan (DDG 169), a Type 052B destroyer built by China. The photo was published as early as 2008, according to the reverse image search engine TinEye.
Behind the Wuhan (DDG 169) is a Japanese destroyer cloned to look like there were eight of them and all made to fly a Philippine flag in the photo. Launched in 1994, the locally built JS Murasame (DD 101) is the lead vessel of the Murasame-class destroyers of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.
To complete its April 3 report, USA Post culled photos and video footage of, among others, the flight operations conducted on the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) in the Philippine Sea last August, American fighter jets participating alongside UK jets in a major exercise aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth in September, the live-fire exercise of the USS Carl Vinson (CVN) in February, as well as Chinese vessels anchored off Julian Felipe Reef as shown in photos taken on March 27 by the Philippine Coast Guard and National Task Force-West Philippine Sea.
For its April 6 thumbnail, USA Post repurposed the “burning” Chinese boats in South Korea’s waters but cloned even more of them. It stuck a Philippine flag to what turned out to be the USS McCampbell (DDG 85) that was participating at a trilateral exercise in the East China Sea in 2012. Getty Images sells a large-size copy of the photo, owned by Smith Collection/Gado, for P22,000.
Like the April 3 video, this video blends photos and footage, including of the USS Boxer (LHD 4) transiting through Strait of Hormuz in 2016, the live-fire training of the USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) as part of the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise in 2018, the USS Chosin (CG 65) and the French frigate Prairial (F731) at the RIMPAC exercise two years earlier.
Created on YouTube in September 2019, the USA Post channel has more a million views. Its Facebook page was created only on April 1. Its eight posts as of April 8 are all about the tension in the West Philippine Sea. The April 3 video, posted April 4 on the Facebook page, generated 3,400 interactions, including 296 comments and 506 shares.
CG 65 – USS Chosin. (n.d.) Seaforces Online. https://www.seaforces.org/usnships/cg/CG-65-USS-Chosin.htm
DD 101 JS Murasame. (n.d.) Seaforces Online https://www.seaforces.org/marint/Japan-Maritime-Self-Defense-Force/Destroyer/Murasame-class_DAT/DD-101-JDS-Murasame.htm
French frigate Prairial (F731) - Forty Ships and submarines steam in close formation during RIMPAC. (2016). DVIDS. https://www.dvidshub.net/video/477739/french-frigate-prairial-f731-forty-ships-and-submarines-steam-close-formation-during-rimpac
HMS Queen Elizabeth welcomes UK and US jets for major exercise. (2020). Royal Air Force. https://www.raf.mod.uk/news/articles/hms-queen-elizabeth-welcomes-uk-and-us-jets-for-major-exercise/
Lendon, B. (2021, April 2). Philippines says illegal structures found on reefs near where Chinese boats gathered. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2021/04/01/asia/philippines-south-china-sea-structures-intl-hnk-scli/index.html
Military Network. (2020, August 30). USS America flight operations [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/UtQgePMMT9Q
National Peace Army History (2019). The combat effectiveness of the only two Type 052B destroyers after the upgrade (Trans). https://zhuanlan.zhihu.com/p/56070651
News Photo: A picture taken on November 16, 2011 from a South... (2011). Getty Images. https://media.gettyimages.com/photos/picture-taken-on-november-16-2011-from-a-south-korean-helicopter-picture-id133095692?s=2048x2048
News Photo: USS McCampbell DDG 85 moves into formation during... (2012). Getty Images. https://media.gettyimages.com/photos/mccampbell-ddg-85-moves-into-formation-during-a-trilateral-exercise-picture-id578073558?s=2048x2048
Philippines says Chinese 'militia' swarm has spread in disputed waters. (2021, March 31). Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-china-southchinasea-idUSKBN2BN0ZS
USS BOXER LHD 4. (2016, July 17). Strait of Hormuz Transit [Video]. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/USSBOXER/videos/1066856660016544
USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) conducts live-fire exercise. (2021). DVIDS. https://www.dvidshub.net/video/787765/uss-carl-vinson-cvn-70-conducts-live-fire-exercise
U.S. Navy. (2018, July 27). Cruiser fires 5 inch gun [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/MFY84SKqckk
USA Post. (2021, April 3). Brutal Attack : Philippines Navy destroy base for China fishing boat that built illegal in PH sea [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/XdtcNXsX15Q
USA Post. (2021, April 4). Philippines Navy destroy base for china fishing boat that built illegal in Philippines sea. LINK VIDEOS: https://youtu.be/XdtcNXsX15Q The Philippines said...[Status update]. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/USA.POST.MLTRY/posts/103983818467472
USA Post. (2021, April 7). The Philippines blast a base for China fishing boats secretly created to rob fish in Philippines Sea. The Philippines on…[Status update]. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/USA.POST.MLTRY/posts/107451311454056
USA Post. (2021, April 6.) (April 08, 2021) Philippine blast a base for China fishing boats secretly created to rob fish in PH Sea [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/ysSWtOzzDv4
Venzon, C. (2021, April 5). Philippines and China intensify war of words over South China Sea. Nikkei Asia. https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/South-China-Sea/Philippines-and-China-intensify-war-of-words-over-South-China-Sea