Hundreds of Filipinos demonstrated outside the Chinese embassy in Makati City today,
over an escalating territorial row, with the protesters denouncing China’s rulers as
Waving national flags, the protesters led called for Chinese ships to pull away from
a disputed shoal in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) where both nations have
had ships stationed for more than a month in an effort to assert their sovereignty.
“Our protest is directed at the overbearing actions and stance of the government in
Beijing, which behaves like an arrogant overlord, even in the homes of its neighbors,”
said rally organizer Filipino-American Loida Nicholas Lewis.
The territorial row centrers on Scarborough Shoal, a tiny rocky outcrop in the West
Philippine Sea about 230 kilometers (140 miles) from the Philippines’ main island of
Luzon. The Philippines says the shoal is part of its territory because it falls within
its exclusive economic zone. But China claims virtually all of the West Philippines Sea,
which is believed to sit atop huge oil and gas reserves, as its historical territory,
even waters close to the coasts of other Asian countries.
The nearest major Chinese landmass to Scarborough Shoal is 1,200 kilometers
northwest of the shoal, according to Filipino navy maps.
Chinese authorities this week ordered tour operators to suspend trips to the Philippines,
in what Filipinos have widely interpreted as a form of economic blackmail. Ahead of the
demonstration China’s embassy in Manila advised Chinese citizens in the Philippines to
stay indoors, warning their safety was at risk particularly during Friday’s protest.