Tensions rise further in S. China Sea dispute
11 May 2012
A recent flare-up between China and the Philippines about a disputed island has renewed tensions surrounding South China Sea territories. The spat has also highlighted a July deadline for agreement on a code of conduct in the sea between China and Southeast Asian nations.
On Thursday, China’s state media said most Chinese travel agencies suspended trips to the Philippines in an escalating and nationalistic war of words over a disputed island chain. China also issued a safety warning to its citizens in the Philippines because of anti-China protests expected this weekend.
Thursday, Foreign affairs spokesman Hong Lei demanded the Philippines ensure that Chinese citizens are safe. The Philippines side encouraged people both at home and abroad to launch demonstrations against China, he said, warning authorities to take measures to protect the safety of Chinese nationals and institutions in the Philippines.
The rising tension came from a face-off last month after a Philippine warship tried to stop Chinese fishing boats in the Scarborough Shoal, but were stopped by surveillance ships from China.
The rocky islands, known as Huangyan in China, are in the South China Sea, about 230 kilometers northwest of the Philippines.
Manila says the shoal is within its exclusive economic zone while Beijing claims not only those islands but almost all the territory in the South China Sea.
That puts China in conflict with other claims in mineral and fishing-rich areas by Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.