Southeast Asian students, activists protest Beijing’s assertiveness in South China Sea
ABOUT 200 foreign students picketed the Chinese Embassy in Makati City on Thursday to protest China’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea.
The students from Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia and Burma (Myanmar) said they wanted Beijing to know that Southeast Asian countries were united in opposition to China’s expansionism in the heavily disputed waterway.
“We, students from different countries, always respect friendship with the people of China but we strongly oppose their aggressiveness, their illegal activities and bullying,” said Nguyen Quoc Giang, president of the Association of Vietnamese Students in the Philippines (AVSP) that organized the protest.
Wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the Vietnamese flag, Giang said China deployed surface-to-air missiles to Woody Island to “militarize” the South China Sea.
China controls Woody Island, part of the Paracel archipelago in the South China Sea, but it is also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.
The protesters waved Vietnamese flags, and banners that demanded China remove the missiles from Woody Island.
Protesters from the local group Movement and Alliance to Resist China’s Aggression, headed by former Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez, supported the foreign students.
Giang said the protesters wanted China to respect international law and stop militarizing the South China Sea.
“We encourage them to join hands with the international community to build a better world where China and other countries can enjoy prosperity, peace and stability,” he added.
In a statement, the AVSP said Southeast Asian countries decided to unite because China had the power to pressure its smaller neighbors in the region like Vietnam and the Philippines, which along with Brunei and Malaysia also claim parts of the South China Sea.
The group said it had around 400 members.
It said it started the anti-China movement two years ago, when China began building artificial islands on contested reefs in the Spratly archipelago.
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