MANILA, Philippines – For China, the objective of the Filipino-led protests against them is clear: the Philippine government is “instigating” its citizens to oppose China's claim over the disputed Scarborough Shoal.
“It's a false move,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei in a media conference Friday, May 11. “It will only make the issue bigger and more complicated.”
In the Philippines, around 400 protesters joined the rally outside the Chinese embassy in Makati City, based on police estimates. Initial projections showed around 1,000 will attend.
The rally turned out to be peaceful. While it initially agitated Beijing, the Philippine protest ended in singing and dancing to the tune of “Kung Fu Fighting.”
In a social media conversation moderated by Rappler, however, some Filipinos said moves like this can do the Philippines more harm than good.
Another Filipino group, the Pipol Power Institute, said Filipinos should remain level-headed amid the Philippines' Scarborough Shoal dispute with China.
“(We) wish to call on our fellow Filipino citizens to refrain from engaging in any war-mongering and hate tactics against the people of China, or even against its institutions and entities,” the Pipol Power Institute said in a statement Friday.
The group said such actions will only worsen the two countries' tension.
“It is, however, the duty of every Filipino, including those that have already sacrificed their lives to defend what is truly ours and to command the respect of the world, to protect our sovereignty even if this requires the supreme sacrifice of our lives,” it explained.
Like the group, security studies expert Rommel Banlaoi said the Philippines should avoid calling China names.
“Our pursuit of diplomacy with China can only work if we refrain from using words that hurt feelings such as 'bully,' 'aggressive,' 'provocateur,' and the like,” Banlaoi said in a Thought Leaders piece for Rappler.
“We can stand firm in our claims by using more constructive words because conflicts and cooperation in international politics are also products of social constructions,” he said. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.