CHINA has called “an affront to its sovereignty” the recent attempt by 15 Filipino youth activists to plant a Philippine flag on Scarborough Shoal off the province of Zambales to mark Independence Day on June 12.
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), however, saw nothing wrong with the nationalistic attempt by members of Kalayaan Atin Ito (Freedom This Is Ours) movement to reclaim, albeit symbolically, what is part of Philippine territory.
“The features that they (protesters) planned to go to, all of them are part of our (territory). We have sovereign rights and jurisdictions over those features,” DFA spokesperson Charles Jose said in a news briefing on Monday.
But he stressed the government’s main concern was the safety of the young Filipinos. “They didn’t have to unnecessarily risk their lives,” he said.
In China, foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang reiterated his country’s sovereignty over “Huangyan Dao,” saying it was China’s “inherent territory.”
Huangyan Dao is what China calls Scarborough Shoal, which is also known to Filipinos as Bajo de Masinloc and Panatag Shoal.
“We urge the Philippines to respect China’s territorial sovereignty and not take any provocative actions,” Lu said in a press briefing in Beijing on June 13, a transcript of which was posted on the Chinese foreign ministry website.
The attempt to plant a flag on the shoal to assert the Philippines’ ownership was thwarted by the Chinese Coast Guard on June 12, which was also the eve of a two-day emergency meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China in Kunming to find ways to lower tensions in the disputed portions of the South China Sea.