China warning against second trip to Spratlys
January 22 2016 08:10 PM


China’s Foreign Ministry urged the Philippines yesterday to exercise “restraint” over “relevant parties”, after Filipino protesters said they planned a second trip to contested islands in the South China Sea.
The Filipino protesters plan in April to spend a month on all the islands in the Spratlys that are occupied by the Philippines.
In December, about 50 Filipino protesters, mostly students, made a three-day boat trip to Thitu, one of nine outcrops or islands occupied by the Philippines.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei repeated that China had “indisputable sovereignty” over the Spratlys.
“The Philippines’ occupation and illegal seizure of the islands is against the law and without effect,” Hong told a daily briefing in Beijing.
“The Philippines should increase restraint on itself and relevant parties, and should not complicate matters,” he said.
China claims almost the entire energy-rich South China Sea, where about $5tn worth of ship-borne trade passes each year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.
Meanwhile, last week Beijing allowed in its first group of tourists, most of them family of soldiers stationed on man-made Fiery Cross in the Spratly Islands, as it began test flights on the 3,000-metre runway.
“China is now doing what we actually did last month when we landed on Pagasa (Thitu) island,” said Vera Joy Ban-eg, spokeswoman for the Kalayaan Atin Ito (Freedom This is Ours) group.
“In April, we will make another voyage to our islands. This time, we will spend a month to visit all the islands we occupy in the Spratlys. We are encouraging all patriotic Filipinos to join us and fight for our territory.”
The protesters said Filipino fishermen could no longer use their traditional fishing grounds because of the threat posed by large Chinese coast guard ships which were driving them away.
They criticise the Philippine government for not doing anything to stop Chinese fishermen from harvesting giant clams and collecting fish with dynamite and cyanide fishing.
“China has established firm and effective control of the South China Sea,” Ban-eg said.

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