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10:50 AM, June 23, 2018
20 Instances of Chinese Laser Attacks on US Military Pilots Reported This Year
Chinese aircraft carrier in South China Sea: People Daily image

China has used ocean-borne lasers to target US military pilots flying over Pacific Ocean on more than 20 occasions since the start of the year, Wall Street Journal reported.

According the news daily, all the incidents occurred over or close to the East China Sea. These attacks were carried out “typically where the Chinese military or other Chinese civilians operate,” WSJ reported Thursday.

The news report stated that, unlike the instances near the Horn of Africa, where the People’s Liberation Army-Navy maintains a base, the lasers seemed to be emanating from fishing boats as well as the mainland. While 20 incidents have been known to be reported, even more incidents may have happened but remained unreported by the air crews.

And this time around, unlike the incidents in Africa, the directed beams of energy weren't originating from military-grade weapons in every reported incident, the newspaper noted.

"US officials said they considered the latest incidents to be low-level but concerning harassment, along the lines of the incidents [US] State Department personnel experienced this year in Guangzhou, where diplomats and some families were evacuated after reports of unexplained medical symptoms."

In May, the Pentagon charged Beijing with firing directed-energy weapons at US pilots near China's base in Djibouti, injuring at least two airmen, and requested that Beijing investigate the laser incidents.

But the targeting by lasers suggests that at some level, the Chinese have continued their harassment of US pilots as tensions remain high between the two countries over trade issues, continuing territorial disputes in the South China Sea, and Beijing’s role in the effort to curtail North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, the report stated.

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