VERA FILES FACT CHECK: NO attack vs China, videos used unrelated images

Photos show forces of the United States, Japan and Australia attacking China.

YouTube channel PHILIPPINE TRENDING NEWS 2024-04-09 False

The photos shown in the videos’ thumbnails were all given a false context. It does not show the actual military force of the three countries attacking China.

Several photos and video clips featuring multiple forces of the United States, Japan and Australia were shown in two YouTube videos which alleged that they were poised to attack China. The claim is misleading. The images are fake or given a false context.

On April 9, a YouTube channel published the video that continues to circulate this week and was reposted by another YouTube channel. Replacing some letters with numbers to avoid keyword detection, it bore the untrue headline:

KAKAPASOK LANG PinaLus0b Sabay Sabay! Amerika Japan Australia Tinap0s ang CHlNA! Pinas May NATO na!

(Just in. Simultaneous attacks! America, Japan and Australia ended China! The Philippines has its own [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] now!)

To support the headline’s claim, the video thumbnail showed three photos: a squadron of jets, a squadron of submarines and a fleet of ships implied to be the forces attacking China. 

However, the claim itself was never mentioned throughout the video’s 12-minute run. Instead, the video talked about and ran news clips on the multilateral maritime cooperative activity (MCA) in the West Philippine Sea held in early April involving forces from Japan, Australia, the US and the Philippines.

A reverse image search revealed that photos used in the thumbnail of the misleading video were given the wrong context. 

The original photo of the jets published by the U.S. Navy was taken during the conclusion of the ANNUALEX military exercise in 2006, with several U.S. and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force Ships participating.

The remaining two images were either AI-generated or animated, not real. The photo of submarines was an animation comparing the number of said naval vessels each country had in 2023, and was published on Chinese video-sharing website Bilibili.

The fleet shown in the spurious thumbnail does not show a real-life event. It is an AI-generated stock image showing a U.S. Navy fleet sailing on an open sea.

VERA Files Fact Check also debunked a similar claim last week. (Read PH DID NOT form NATO-like alliance)

This clickbait video appeared days before the first ever Philippines-U.S.-Japan trilateral summit was held as part of the “continuing evolution” of the relationship among the three countries, organized amid continuing Chinese harassment of Philippine vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

YouTube channel PHILIPPINES TRENDING NEWS (created on Dec. 10, 2014) first published the video, garnering over 102,000 views and 1,800 online interactions. It was then reposted by YouTube channel Siobal D (April 17, 2013) which gathered more than 21,000 views and 1,500 engagements.

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(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)