XI’S GOTTA HAVE IT: ‘Only Pirates Do This’: China Wields Axes and Knives in South China Sea Fight.

The Chinese coast guard came in small boats with axes, long knives and spears.

They used the crude weapons to slash and puncture the Philippine military’s rubber craft. One Chinese boat rammed a Philippine boat at high speed, severing the thumb of a Filipino seaman who was holding on to the side of his ride.

During Monday’s frantic events in the South China Sea, the Chinese coast guard crew also boarded a Philippine boat, smashed its outboard motor and communications equipment, and grabbed the Filipino crew’s cellphones. They seized seven disassembled rifles that were packed in cases for delivery to a Philippine outpost, the Philippine military said.

“Only pirates do this,” said Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., the Philippine military’s chief of staff. “Only pirates board, steal, and destroy ships, equipment and belongings.”

The incident, described by the Philippine armed forces, marked a sharp escalation in China’s use of forceful tactics and intimidation against a U.S. ally in the South China Sea. Its coast guard had never wielded bladed weapons and spears in its previous sea confrontations with the Philippines.

There’s hardly anyone around able to push back, so of course, they escalated.