China, Philippines: Scarborough Shoal Sovereignty Tension Rises

Tension between China and the Philippines over the disputed waters of the Scarborough Shoal or Huangyan Island has been elevated, with the state-controlled Chinese media reporting that China can no longer tolerate the presence of Philippines naval ships in the South China Sea.

The China Daily commentary on May 8, 2012, highlighted [zh] in its headline that China “could not tolerate the intolerable” regarding the Scarborough Shoal dispute and it revealed that the Chinese government's diplomatic strategy would be a demonstration of sovereignty in the South China Sea.

Nationalist performance

Nationalist Chinese media outlet Global Times's editorial on May 9, stated that [zh] “it would be a miracle if the confrontation would not end up in military conflicts”.

Local newspapers also reported that Chinese naval ships have expelled [zh] Philippine fishermen from the Shoal. The nationalist commentaries come in reaction to a Philippine military expert's claim [zh] that China would not resort to military means to solve either the Scarborough Shoal dispute or domestically, Chinese online nationalism.

The latest sovereignty performance came with the erection of a Chinese flag on the main reef of the Scarborough Shoal by a Dongfan Star television reporter:

Chinese social media is flooded with nationalist sentiment when the word “黃岩島” (Huangyan Island) is searched for, and the mainstream media have added oil to the flame. Below is a selection of some typical Weibo comments on the issue:


@周指辉 [zh]: It seems that our country is to take control of the Huangyan Islands. This is a golden opportunity, I hope we can take control of other islands as well.


@醉想丽华 [zh]: Chinese territory is really huge, but every inch of it is holy. There is no negotiation over territorial matters, only war can solve the problem. We have to hold our weapon and get prepared. Once we are being bullied, we have to fight back. Everyday, the media keep saying that Huangyan is an integral part of China, this is so frustrating… we are being bullied and we still keep talking. We need to show some colors so that they won't test our strength.


@黑匣子陈廖宇 [zh]: The Huangyan issue is a symbolic act for different countries to feed their fantasy [political and nationalistic]. So better not to solve the problem.


@佳琦-半正太V [zh]: China has been very restrained in dealing with the South China Sea problem. But the Huangyan Island issue has been stirred up by the Philippines. I think we can test our knife and see if we can also give some warning to Vietnam and Japan.

 A media worker's reflection

Media worker in Guangzhou, Su Shaoxin [zh], is critical of the media flaming of the popular nationalistic sentiment:


As media workers and public figures, we can win applause from the market and enjoy being politically correct by adding oil to the nationalist sentiment at this moment. However, such utilitarianism would bring disaster to the country and you [probably refers to a more experienced media worker] have much [more] painful experience than me. I would say there is a lack of knowledge and ability in dealing with the [Huangyan] issue — because if it is not out of naivety, there is some hidden agenda [behind the reports and commentaries].


  • tom

    China has been trading with the philippines since ancient times so the entire phlippines is theirs

  • yuki

    i have some good chinese friends.
    however, i fear i may become to hate them gradually for recent arguments.
    i wish we can keep good relations with them forever, though unscrupulous disputes continue.

    let’s go to the international court to solve the isue.
    it’s the way usually taken in democratic nations.

  • I am just laughing at all the Chinese people who feels that some countries are bullying them when in fact their country is the one bullying its neighbors.

  • Joe

    All Cure Chinese Fetus Pills!!! I won’t be surprised if China uses the knife to come up with a resolution.

  • […] Sea or West Philippine Sea is being claimed by three countries: China, Philippines, and Taiwan. Tension rose in the past month between the Philippines and China when the governments of the two nations […]

  • Bob

    “…there is some hidden agenda [behind the reports and commentaries].”

    You mean like the Bo Xilai and Chen Guangcheng scandals? This whole dispute is one big cover up to draw attention away from those two events. The reason why China continues to refuse bringing the issue to an international court might be because of them not actually having the documents to back up their claims, but more important than that, it’s the only way for the Philippines to retaliate. If this issue gets taken to an international court, even if they rule in favor of China, the dispute will be over and what’s left for reporters to talk about other than the two big internal scandals?

  • China is an ambitious ridiculously. Scarborough is Phillipine because is near Phillipine more than china by miles.
    Does china wants to play with Vietnamese? in 1979 how many chinese army died in vietnam? alot
    If vietnam has good weapon ,who care china.

  • […] pinag-aagawan ng tatlong bansa: Tsina, Pilipinas at Taiwan. Sa mga nakalipas na buwan, umigting ang tensyon [en] sa pagitan ng Pilipinas at Tsina nang buweltahan ng magkabilang pamahalaan ang mga akusasyon […]

  • Joel

    China was trading in the Philippines, yes but it doesn’t mean China owns Philippines. At present China is trading in almost all countries as far as Africa, does it mean that those countries belong to China?

  • Ljayabes

    scarborough shoal belongs to phillipines not to china!!!

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