MANILA, Philippines - About 500 activists held a prayer rally in Manila on Tuesday to end the longstanding tensions between the Philippines and China over the decades-old territorial dispute in the South China Sea.
Activists from the U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance sang Christian songs and prayed that the upcoming government transition in China on October will promote peace instead of showing aggression on its neighbouring countries as it did in the past months.
"To the new incoming president of China, please remember: We are your neighbours from ancient times and now you're becoming a world power; be our big brother and we are your little brother. Let us help one another, and we don't have to quarrel. So I congratulate you, because I think they have chosen who you are already. Let us talk, let us have justice, and let us have peace. Thank you very much and god bless you," said U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance founder, Loida Lewis.
Tensions flared last month after China's decision to establish a military garrison in the disputed South China Sea, urging Manila to file another diplomatic protest against Beijing.
The two countries have faced off on a number of occasions in the disputed waters, and earlier in the year they were involved in a month-long standoff at Scarborough Shoal.
The Philippines insists it has sole jurisdiction over the Kalayaan group of islands in the Spratlys, Reed Bank and Scarborough Shoal because they lie within the country's 200-mile (322-km) exclusive economic zone.
The South China Sea has become Asia's biggest potential military flashpoint as Beijing's sovereignty claim over the huge area has set it against Vietnam and the Philippines, as the three countries race to tap possibly huge oil reserves believed to lie under the seabed.
Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have claims on parts of the sea.