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].


  • laughing at CHINA wahahah

    the world knows where the Scarborough shoal belong. it is very ridiculous that CHina is after the shoal even that it is very far from them, we must raise our arms and show to them what really filipinos are, this is s threat to our us, we must be ready.

    if Chinese want a war, so be it. we have many allies like south Korea, japan, and united states. if our president today is just like marcos, i’m sure the china cant do that to us, we need a strong president for we are strong people,.

    remember how we fought SPAIN ??? which is consider as super power at that times?we must do it again.we are more intelligent than china, we always do..  

    • Lan

      please think first before you comment…

  • mike

    well the truth is the territory belong to philippines not from china. mike from australia

  • […] بحري مع الصين الفلبين على مراجعة قدراتها الدفاعية. نشأ التوتر باكراً هذا العام عندما اتهمت بيكين ومانيلا بعضهما […]

  • […] A maritime dispute with China has forced the Philippines to review its defense capabilities. Tension arose earlier this year when Beijing and Manila accused each other of illegally occupying the territorial waters near the Scarborough Shoal located in the South China Sea. […]

  • […] ဖြစ်ပွားသော ပင်လယ်ရေကြောင်းဆိုင်ရာ အငြင်းပွားမှုက ဖိလစ်ပိုင်အား ၄င်း၏ […]

  • kevin suazo

    you chinese people don’t know how to read maps so well. it belongs to the philippines’ 7,107 islands.

  • Betelguese

    The flagship of the Philippino Navy is a former U.S. Coast Guard cutter with one small canon on the front. It’s an understatement that China is being very restrained militarily. It could make all the Philippines a boiling nuclear cauldron. I think the biggest Philippino export is bananas for Chiquita Inc. Can the Philippines even manage to build a propellor driven airplane? No. Even at it’s nadir, China wasn’t colonized. China was and will be a superpower again. Only 3 countries have put men and women into space and successfully accompished a space dock. Can you name them? What have the Philippines contributed to global civilization? Go see what China invented first. China gets stronger every day. Deal with it.

  • […] Leticia Shahani explored the diplomatic history behind the territorial dispute between China and the Philippines over Bajo de Masinloc (also known as Scarborough Shoal or Panatag Shoal) and the Kalayaan Group of […]

  • Philippines

    Then why don’t you, Chinese people, take this dispute into the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) provided with the
    United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and settle it. Why did you reject it when the Philippines proposed it? According to the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Scarborough Shoal is part of the Philippines because of the Exclusive Economic Zone which extends the territory from the seaward edge of the states’ territorial
    sea out to 200 nautical from the its coast. And even in terms of historical issues, the Philippines we’re already fishing in that area as early as the Spaniards came. And lastly, way back then, Philippine Government and U.S Navy forced base on the based in the United States Naval Base Subic Bay in Zambales conducted an
    oceanic research or oceanographic survey in the area and used it as an impact
    range for defense purpose. They found out that there is the flag of the Philippines that was raised
    in the Scarborough Shoal with an 8.3 meter high which was raised in 1965
    together with a lighthouse which was operated the same year. You Chinese people are really annoying. You claim everything even if it’s not yours. And please, don’t claim the Philippines because first, we have our own title.

    • Chinoy

      I am a filipino with a chinese family name. my descendants are chinese, but i am 100% filipino. And i am very proud to be one. My father fought under the S.A.C. a guerilla unit during world war 2. I am a reservist of the phil army. My message to china is …Might is not a Right. Live peacefully along with your asian neighbors. Settle this issue with the United Nations. . . and be wisely guided by its principles for what it stands for….

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