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Filipino activists rallied outside the Chinese Embassy in Manila on Thursday. They are demanding the Chinese military stop incursions into disputed territories in the South China Sea. The protests were sparked by tensions surrounding a group of islands that could contain oil and gas.
Outside the Chinese embassy in Manila, about 70 Filipino activists held up posters of the character Po, from the Kung Fu Panda animation movie, saying the Panda is a symbol for standing up against bullies.
They blame the Chinese regime for what they claim are increasingly aggressive moves to take control of a group of disputed islands in the South China Sea. The islands could be rich in oil and gas resources.
The Philippine government claimed on March 4, two Chinese patrol boats threatened to ram a survey ship. They later protested to the United Nations that parts of the Spratly Islands are within its 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
Then on Thursday the Chinese regime sent its biggest civilian patrol ship across the South China Sea near the island groups, heightening tensions.
The issue has become a hot topic on Filipino media, sparking protests organized by the left-wing organization, the Akbayan party.
[Emman Hizon, Communications Officer, Akbayan Party]:
"We're just asking here for some respect with regards to the issue. But the Chinese government's absolutist claims on the area is not helping in any way in resolving the crisis. Much more, their initiative to escalate their military presence in the area is not also helping."
Both Vietnam and the Philippines lay claim to the islands. Both have suggested an external power should weigh into the dispute.