About 50 Philippine protesters, mostly students, have landed on a remote island in the South China Sea to draw attention to what they charge is growing Chinese encroachment in the area.
China, which claims virtually the entire South China Sea, has expressed anger over the “landing” and foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Monday, “We once again urge the Philippines to withdraw from the islands that it is illegally occupying.”
In addition to the Philippines and China, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also lay claim to the area. This group of protesters landed on Pagasa in the Spratly archipelago on Saturday and say they will leave by Wednesday. The government of the Philippines did not sanction the “landing” and cited safety and security concerns.
Pagasa Island, in the Spratley Islands
However, the Philippines does have a case before the arbitration court at The Hague, challenging China’s island building and naval patrols in the area. And the United States and Australia have both been undertaking freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.
China says the panel at The Hague has no authority to rule in the case.