MANILA – Youth groups led by the Kabataan Party-list stormed the Chinese Consulate along Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue in Makati City on Friday morning to denounce what they deem an “orchestrated move” by Beijing to escalate tensions in disputed waters of the South China Sea.
Protesters burned mock missiles in front of the Chinese Consulate. The protest follows reports that Beijing has been installing surface-to-air missiles in Woody Island, one of the major islands in the Paracel Island chain.
Sarah Elago, national president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) and Kabataan Partylist first nominee, said the close proximity of the Paracel Islands to territory claimed by Manila in the West Philippine Sea is the primary cause for concern.
“Installing armaments in the disputed seas will undoubtedly heighten tensions among claimant nations. Beijing claims that the missiles have been installed for self-defense, but there is no guarantee that the Chinese government will not use these missiles against neighboring countries to assert its claim over the whole South China Sea,” Elago said.
While most of the Paracel Islands are within China’s 200 nautical-mile exclusive economic zone as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the presence of missile launchers in Woody Island is proof of Beijing’s aggressive effort to militarize the area, Elago added.
“We strongly condemn China’s militarist approach to the sea dispute. The Philippines has brought this issue to the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, yet China refuses to participate. Instead, China is seemingly preparing for an armed confrontation that will surely result in the destabilization of the whole Asia-Pacific region,” the youth leader added.