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WHAT:  Mass demonstrations will be held by Filipinos at all China consular offices in the United States (Washington DC, NY, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco), in Canada (Vancouver and Toronto) and in at least 20 other cities around the world. The largest protest will be held in Makati in the Philippines where former Philippine Pres. Fidel V. Ramos will join Broadway star Lea Salonga in speaking out against China’s “creeping invasion” of the Philippines.

WHEN:  12 noon, Friday, May 11, 2012

 WHERE:  China Consulate 1450 Laguna Street (corner Geary Blvd.) in San Francisco                    Meeting time: 11:00 AM in front of St. Mary’s Cathedral on Geary Blvd.

WHO:  At least 500 Filipino-Americans including WW II veteran survivors of the Bataan Death March, seniors, students, religious groups,  professionals, youth, Democrats, Republicans, Independents

Background: Ownership of the Scarborough Shoal, (which China calls “Huangyan Island”) located 124 miles from the Philippines, is disputed by China which is more than 500 miles away from the Shoal. The dispute came to a head on April 8, 2012 when eight Chinese fishing vessels set anchor in Scarborough Shoal After their presence was discovered by a Philippine Air Force surveillance plane, a Philippine Navy frigate went to the Shoal and boarded the trespassing vessels and discovered large quantities of illegally collected corals, giant clams, and live sharks.   This incident was just the latest in a series of developments that had occurred in the past six months including:   – Chinese ships firing on and harassing Philippine fishing boats and exploration and mapping vessels in the vicinity of the shoal, forcing them to withdraw   – Chinese ships dropping steel posts and navigation buoys with Chinese markings in the waters around Scarborough Shoal   – Chinese ships blocking the Philippine navy vessel, BRP Gregorio del Pilar, which sought to apprehend Chinese boats loaded with corals, rare fish and live baby sharks which were illegally caught and are prohibited under Philippine laws   – Chinese planes buzzing Philippine Coast Guard vessels and fishing boats in the shoal.   On April 10, 2012 Chinese government vessels were then dispatched to the scene where they were able to rescue the Chinese fishermen and their illegal catch. Since then, China has increased the number of its vessels in the area to 32 compared to just 2 vessels on the Philippine side.

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Major-Gen. Luo Yuan of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) declared that “it is the Philippines that violated China’s sovereignty over Huangyan Island by forcing an inspection of a Chinese fishing vessel. Therefore, action was required in order to respond to this unnecessary provocation to let both the Philippines and any potential future provocateur know that such actions will not be tolerated.”   In its April 25 editorial, the Global Times, published by China’s official People’s Daily, warned that “China should select the most arrogant provocateur, conduct comprehensive strikes, and exert pressure economically, politically and militarily. If the water overwhelms China’s knees, other countries will find their necks in the water.”   On May 7, 2012, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying summoned the Philippine Charge d’Affairs in Beijing to demand that the Philippines “withdraw its vessels in the sea area around Huangyan Island, and to never again impede the operations of Chinese fishing vessels or Chinese government vessels performing their duties in accordance with Chinese law,” Fu said.   The People’s Liberation Army Daily declared that Beijing will not flinch from a military response if the conflict escalates. “What we want to say is that anyone who tries in vain to seize sovereignty of Huangyan Island will be rebuffed by the Chinese government, Chinese people, and even more the Chinese military,” a commentary in the military paper said.

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Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario outlined the country’s “three-track approach” to resolve its dispute with China: a political track focused on seeking the support of ASEAN member nations; a legal track based on filing a dispute settlement case before the United Nations and United Nations Convention on the Law Of the Seas (UNCLOS); and a diplomatic track of engaging in regular consultations with China to defuse the tensions.   To support the Philippines in its dispute with China, Filipinos in America, numbering more than 4 million, organized a global protest against China’s consular offices in the US, Canada and cities all over the world, on Friday, May 11, at 12 noon in whatever time zone.   “The global protest seeks to mobilize world public opinion, especially in the US, to oppose China’s hegemonic ambitions in the Philippines,” Rodel Rodis, president of the main sponsor of the rally, US Pinoys for Good Governance (USPGG). “We also want China to know that the 12 million Filipinos in the Diaspora will support the Philippines on this issue.   In retaliation for the planned May 11 global protest, China has suspended all Chinese travel tours to the Philippines and all agricultural products from the Philippines. Military action has also bee threatened.   Assessing China’s threats against the Philippines, one analyst noted: “I think this is happening because the Philippines is so weak. The Chinese government can beat the war drums all they want, and as loud as they want, and no war is going to happen. It’s akin to bullying someone in a wheelchair that you know can’t punch back.”   But the bully should know that the man in the wheelchair has relatives abroad.

MANIFESTO ON MAY 11, 2012   On this day, Filipinos spread out all over the world are holding peaceful demonstrations to protest the continuing acts of aggression by China in Scarborough Shoal that is part of Philippine territory.   Since the stand-off at Scarborough Shoal began over a month ago, the Chinese government has kept insisting on its “historic rights” to Scarborough and other areas that are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, while refusing the Philippine government’s offer to raise the issue for mediation in the proper international tribunals, as provided for by several global conventions and agreements, mainly, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS.   At the same time, China has repeatedly warned the Philippine government against moves that could “escalate” the tension or “internationalize” the conflict—a classic case of speaking from both sides of the mouth because it has no qualms about flaunting its military superiority and has, of last count, kept maritime surveillance vessels CMS 75 and 81, and the fisheries patrol vessel FLEC 310, alongside 30 Chinese fishing boats at Scarborough.   China takes offense that, while hapless Filipino fishermen venture out to sea once more, the Philippine Coast Guard maintains one boat in the area along with a Bureau of Fisheries vessel. China has signalled a readiness to harass and shoo away Filipino fishermen, who for centuries have drawn life from the bounty of the seas off Masinloc province in Zambales.   We cannot let pass this series of objectionable actions by China, a supposedly law-abiding member of the community of nations, or risk validating our giant Asian neighbor’s misplaced proprietary sense and embolden it to take further aggressive action—not only against the Philippines, but also against other small neighbors as well.   Let it be clear to all that the Filipino people have no quarrel with their Chinese brothers and sisters, with whom they share centuries of good relations. Many Filipinos of Chinese descent have helped build, and continue to build, our nation. Our protest is directed at the overbearing actions and stance of the government in Beijing, which behaves like an arrogant overlord, even in the homes of its neighbors.   The bounty of the seas—be it in Zambales, or in Recto Bank, or the small islands in the West Philippine Sea where Filipino communities have been growing—is not only for people to benefit from, but also to conserve. And the community of nations, mainly through the UN, have laid down clear guidelines for the conduct of all peoples seeking to harness economic wealth from nature. That is why all must live by set codes, in a rules-based setting at all times.   All we ask is for the Chinese government to respect the rights of its neighbors, even while it needs to assert its national interest. If it continues on this path of obstinate bullying, it will only have itself to blame for the consequences of its folly.

BBC: China bangs the war drum over South China Sea

BBC: China travel agencies suspend Philippine tours

GMA news: China state media warns of war, embassy advises citizens in Manila to stay indoors Scarborough will not be Mischief Reef redux Scarborough shoal standoff: A timeline


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Posted in OFW, Philippine Updates.