MANILA, Philippines – Dozens of Filipino left-wing activists protested Wednesday at China’s consulate in Manila to protest a dangerous attempt by Chinese coast guard ships to block a Philippine supply boat near a disputed shoal in the South China Sea.
About 60 members of the Akbayan political party carried a mock yellow tape measure during the hourlong protest, yelling “China do you know how to measure?”
A Chinese coast guard ship dangerously crossed the bow Saturday of a Philippine government supply boat, which was en route to the Second Thomas Shoal to transport a fresh batch of Filipino marines and food supply to a military ship outpost. Despite Chinese radio warnings for it to leave, the Philippine boat sneaked past the blockade and fulfilled its mission.
Rep. Barry Gutierrez, a member of the Philippine Congress, also urged China to not ignore the Philippines’ legal challenges to China’s sweeping claims in the entire South China Sea. Manila submitted evidence and legal arguments in its case to a U.N. arbitration tribunal on Sunday.
China should defend its claims to the tribunal “instead of pursuing this policy of bullying,” he said.
Chinese Embassy charge d’affairs Sun Xiangyang told reporters Tuesday that the Philippine move to go to international arbitration “seriously damaged bilateral relations.”
Philippine National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia Jr. said the government expects China to pursue its claims more aggressively.
“We have contingency plans for various scenarios,” Garcia told reporters but refused to describe what the government expects China would do. “We’re hoping for the best and plan for the worst.”
Long-simmering disputes over a number of South China Sea territories have strained ties in the region. China insists the Philippines and other claimants should resolve their differences with China one-on-one, which would be to China’s advantage.