Filipinos Rally Against China's Claim to Shoal

Discussion in 'Indo Pacific & East Asia' started by nrj, May 13, 2012.

  1. nrj

    nrj Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Nov 16, 2009
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    MANILA — With the 1970s pop song “Kung Fu Fighting” playing in the background, several hundred people gathered in front of a Chinese consular office on Friday afternoon to protest an escalating territorial dispute.

    “China back off! China back off!” protesters yelled as dozens of police officers and members of the news media surrounded the office. An attempt to burn a Chinese flag was stopped by the police, but generally the lively and noisy protest was peaceful.

    The rally, which was organized in conjunction with similar protests by Filipinos at Chinese embassies in other countries, was designed to highlight what the Philippines says is an intrusion into its territory by Chinese vessels.

    The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily briefing that the Philippines should take measures to keep the dispute from becoming any worse, Bloomberg reported from Beijing, adding that “the government has incited the Philippine people to protest.”

    The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, said that the protest was organized without any government involvement.

    The dispute is centered on Scarborough Shoal, a rock outcropping about 200 kilometers, or 125 miles, off the coast of the Philippine island of Luzon.

    Both China and the Philippines see the area as their territory, and since early April, both countries have had maritime patrol boats in position to defend their claim.

    The theme of the protest Friday was that China was bullying the smaller and weaker Philippines.

    “We know they are a world power, but world opinion is against them,” said a Manila resident, Emmanuel Geslani, a labor recruiting agent. “We don’t want a military confrontation. Even the Chinese don’t want the world to see them picking on a small country.”

    The Chinese government this week took a variety of actions against the Philippines, including increasing inspections of goods coming into China and limiting visits by Chinese tourists. Some Chinese have speculated that the Philippines has been emboldened in the dispute by its military alliance with the United States.

    Protesters at the rally in Manila on Friday had varying opinions on the topic.

    “The Americans agree with us on this,” said Norma Solis, a 65-year-old member of a Christian religious organization that joined the rally. “God is more powerful than the Americans. God will touch the hearts of the Chinese and convince them to leave our territory.”

    Wilson Posadas, a 33-year-old Manila resident, was less confident of getting help from either the United States or a higher power. “The Americans won’t help us with this,” he said. “We are on our own.”

    Lian Liang, a 28-year-old graduate student at a Manila business school who is originally from the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, said she came to the rally to take photos and send them home to China.

    She said several of her friends had canceled their plans to visit the Philippines.

    “The Chinese media is saying the Philippines is evil,” she said, adding that she was not taking sides in the territorial issue. “I want to tell my family in China that the Filipino people are friendly.”

    Max Soriano, a leader of the left-leaning organization Akbayan, said the Chinese government should consider Philippine initiatives to bring the dispute to an international forum for resolution.

    “I hope the Chinese will take note and agree to settle this in the United Nations,” he said. “We can’t win a war with China.”

    As Mr. Soriano spoke, the lyrics of the song “Kung Fu Fighting” could be heard nearly drowning out his voice.

    “In fact it was a little bit frightening,” the song rang out on loudspeakers.
    Zero_Wing likes this.

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