A Filipino protester burns a Chinese flag
Christina Wang and Iris Gao write for EA:
On 11 May, Filipinos gathered in front of the Chinese Embassy in Manila, protesting "the overbearing actions and stance of the government in Beijing, which behaves like an arrogant overlord, even in the home of its neighbours". The incident provoking the demonstration was a clash in waters claimed by both countries.
On 8 April, a Philippines warship and two Chinese patrol boats confronted each other off the Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island for China; Kulumpol ng Panatag for the Philippines) after the Philippine navy tried to arrest two Chinese fishermen. The Philippine side claimed these Chinese fishing boats were in their waters; the Chinese disputed this.
Filipino activists, carrying placards and banners and waving small Philippines flags, held the noisy but peaceful protest. Organisers claimed there were more than 1000; Chinese media said 500. The protesters prayed, sang patriotic hymns and chanted anti-China slogans, leaving quietly after one hour under close watch of dozens of police. The only sign of trouble was the protesters' arrival when anti-riot police stopped a man who got out of his car in front of the Embassy and attempted to burn a Chinese flag with the message, "Scarborough is ours".
Chinese officials were unmoved by the protest. Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying criticised the continuous provocation by the Philippines. Saying Beijing is not optimistic about the situation, he declared that China is fully prepared to respond to any Philippine escalation.
Chinese media also gave other signals of a response, for example, naming the leader of the protest as Philippline-born businesswoman Loida Nicolas-Lewis. China News said she had business interests in China, a claim denied by Nicolas-Lewis.
Meanwhile, Beijing warned Chinese tourists to avoid the Philippines and called on those already there to leave within three days, offering to refund their expenses.