This photo taken on March 5, 2024 shows Philippine Coast Guard personnel onboard a rubber boat after they delivered medical supplies to the military chartered Unaizah May 4 as a China Coast Guard vessel (back) sails nearby during a supply mission to Second Thomas Shoal in the disputed South China Sea.

The Philippine military has condemned China’s recent actions in the South China Sea, stating that a confrontation this week led to a Filipino sailor losing a finger.

On Wednesday, Alfonso Torres Jr., commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Command, said Chinese Coast Guard personnel “illegally boarded” Philippine rubber boats during a routine resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre, a grounded vessel at the Second Thomas Shoal, on Monday.

Torres said the Chinese also “looted” seven of the Philippine navy’s rifles, which were disassembled inside gun cases and intended for Filipino servicemen stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre. The vessel serves as an outpost to maintain the Philippines’ claim to the shoal.

Eight Philippine navy personnel sustained injuries, with the military confirming one victim: a sailor whose right thumb was severed after the China Coast Guard rammed the Philippine boats.

“Because of the speed, the forward portion of the China Coast Guard’s RHIB [rigid-hull inflatable boat] landed on top of our troop’s RHIB, and unfortunately our troop’s hand was there,” Torres said. “It’s a relief that it wasn’t the whole hand.”

AFP chief General Romeo Brawner Jr. said the standoff, the latest in a series of confrontations, marked the first time Filipino troops encountered Chinese coast guard members armed with bladed weapons like bolos, knives, and spears, which they allegedly used to pierce through Philippine Navy boats. “We saw in the video how the Chinese even threatened our personnel by pointing their knives,” Brawner said.

Brawner said the AFP demands that Beijing return the disassembled rifles. “We are also demanding from them to pay for the damages that they have caused,” he added. “For me, this is piracy already… Because they boarded our boats illegally. They got our equipment. Again, based on their actions, it’s like they are pirates.”

The Philippines’ foreign affairs department said it “denounces the illegal and aggressive actions of Chinese authorities that resulted in personnel injury and vessel damage.”

China’s foreign ministry earlier commented on the latest South China Sea incident, claiming that its “maneuvers at the scene were professional, restrained, justified and lawful.”

The clash came just days after a Chinese administrative law took effect, effectively authorizing the China Coast Guard to arrest foreign vessels which “illegally enter China’s territorial waters” and to detain foreign crews for up to 60 days.

But the Philippines and its allies disagree, continuing to point to an international tribunal ruling invalidating China’s claims to the sea .

The U.S. State Department on Monday condemned China’s actions, which it said “threatens regional peace and stability,” and reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to a mutual defense treaty with Manila, which is meant to come into effect should Philippine forces face an “armed attack.”