|A group of Chinese students hold a protest in front of the Philippine Embassy in London on Monday morning. / Photo by Rose Eclarinal
LONDON - Some 65 Chinese students protested in front of the Philippine Embassy in London on Monday morning. The students began to congregate along Suffolk St. as early as 9 a.m., and staged a rally that started at 11 a.m. and lasted for 3 hours.
The students refused to be identified with any political faction. They said they are a group of Chinese students studying in a number of universities in the UK and were there to defend and claim the Huangyan Island (Scarborough Shoal) which they asserted is part of the Chinese territory.
"We just want to tell the Philippines, why the island belongs to China. We have a lot of fishermen caught by the Philippines. Philippines sent warship to the area, but we didn’t. That’s why we are angry. We need we need to tell the truth," said Lee Li, the group’s appointed spokesperson.
Carrying placards with statements such as "Respect the truth, shut up, get out, stop lying, it’s never yours, out of Chinese territory," the Chinese students also chanted "hands off our Huangyan Island," "Huangyan Island is part of China" and also sang nationalistic songs.
Li said Huangyan Island is an "inherent territory of China" because China discovered it and drew a map as early as 1279, during the Yuan Dynasty.
The students also distributed flyers and position papers to explain why the Huangyan Island or Scarborbough Shoal belongs to China.
"China holds three international treaties in support of its claim over the territories in question, namely, the 1898 Treaty of Paris between the US and Spain, the 1900 Treaty of Washington between Spain and US, and the 1930 treaty between the Great Britain and US, all limiting Philippines territorial limits to the 118th degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich, which the Scarborough Shoal is not on the list," the paper said.
It also stated: "By contrast, the 'old maps' being relied upon by the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines in its spurious claim on the same territory were drawn up only in 1820. For what reason and in which sense that the Philippines can claim that a map drawn up 5 centuries and 4 decades after (China drew the map in 1279), takes precedence over the much earlier map of China?"
According to Consul Louis Alferez, political officer of the Philippine Embassy in London, the students have the right to "articulate their position" in a peaceful demonstration.
"Wala kaming objection sa pag-rally nila. Ang ni-request lang namin sa kanila ay di maistorbo an operation ng consular section at magambala ang ating Filipino community," said Alferez.
The embassy monitored the situation and in response to the rally, Alferez also gave out the embassy’s position paper to interested parties.
"Mayroon din kaming nabigyan ng position paper ng Pilipinas na nanghingi. Essentially, the position paper is about the Bajo de Masinloc issue and we are claiming it as our own. It is part of the Philippine territory and we have sovereignty over it. Nakalagay din dun na ang ating plano ay itulak ang isang peaceful resolution sa issue at magamit natin ang tamang forum under international law, upang mapatunayan na pag- aari ng Pilipinas," he explained.
He also told ABS-CBN Europe: "Kami sa embassy ay naniwala na kailangan ang isang peaceful dialogue at peaceful resolution sa issue na ito. At walang bagay dapat na gagawin na makaka-aggravate ng sitwasyon."
As on Monday, the Philippine embassy in London has not received any notice for protests of similar nature.