Philippine senator makes Tiktok claim about China missile plans

Governor Imee Marcos flashes the peace sign as she joins other supporters during a rally in front of the Supreme Court in Manila

By Mikhail Flores and Karen Lema

MANILA (Reuters) - A prominent Philippine senator has created a stir by saying on social media she has knowledge of a Chinese plan to target her country with hypersonic missiles, though the national security council said it was unaware of any such security threat.

Senator Imee Marcos, the sister of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and head of the senate foreign relations committee, made her claim in a short video that has so far had over 900,000 views on Tiktok and over 100,000 on Facebook.

China's defence and foreign ministries did not immediately respond to Reuters' requests for comment on the video, which Imee Marcos posted on Tuesday as the Philippines and China held talks on their South China Sea territorial dispute.

In her video, Marcos said China had set 25 targets around the Philippine archipelago that it would attack with hypersonic missiles, and the northern islands of Batanes, close to Taiwan, would be among the first targets.

Marcos provided no evidence to support her claim, which she made as part of an argument that her brother's closer ties with the United States has made China see the Philippines as a threat. Reuters could not verify her claim.

"Let's admit the problem: that China thinks we have sided with their enemy," she said in her video.

"As tensions escalate in the West Philippine Sea, I saw a Chinese plan that they will use a hypersonic missile," she said, without saying where she got the information. West Philippine Sea refers to waters within Manila's exclusive economic zone.

Marcos opposes some of her brother's policies regarding China, including his decision to grant the United States expanded access to Philippine military facilities it can use, including those facing Taiwan and the South China Sea.

The Philippines national security council said it would ask Marcos for more information about her statement, with spokesman Jonathan Malaya saying in a message "... we are not aware of any of the security threats she mentioned".


"The Philippines and PRC (People's Republic of China) maintain cordial relations and are committed to managing whatever differences there may be, thus we see no threat of any imminent attack from the PRC," Malaya added.

Neither the Chinese embassy in Manila nor Imee Marcos' office responded immediately to a Reuters request for comment on the video. The U.S. Embassy said it had no comment at present.

A spokesperson at the Philippine defence department said it "has no basis for a comment or reaction to Senator Marcos' video because we have not seen or read the plans she referred to".

President Marcos' office did not respond to a request for comment.

China accused the Philippines of "stoking the fire" of regional tensions with its military agreement with the U.S.

Beijing also condemned the deployment of the United States' Typhon missile in the Philippines during the allies' joint military exercises.

The U.S. is treaty-bound to help the Philippines against an armed attack on its soldiers and vessels, and President Joe Biden has reaffirmed Washington's "ironclad commitment" to defend its oldest ally in Asia.

The U.S. maintains unofficial relations with Taiwan and remains the democratically-governed island's most important backer and arms supplier. China considers Taiwan its own territory and has vowed to claim it by force, if necessary.

(Additional reporting by Beijing Bureau. Editing by Kay Johnson and Gareth Jones)