Close  

Beijing suspends tourism travel to PH

/ 12:36 AM May 11, 2012

BEIJING—The monthlong standoff between China and the Philippines over Scarborough Shoal is snowballing with hints of economic retaliation and sharpening public opinion on both sides—possibly narrowing the space for a hoped-for negotiated settlement.

Beijing is suspending some tourism to the Philippines and ordered stiffened inspections on imported Philippine fruit such as bananas, of which China is the single largest buyer. That follows Beijing’s summoning of Manila’s charge d’affairs three times, while retired and serving military officers have called for a limited military operation to shore up China’s credibility on the matter—a potentially explosive move that could trigger the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Philippines has registered its own diplomatic protests, with Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario cautioning foreign governments over what the Philippines perceives as China’s looming threat to freedom of navigation.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is preparing to bring the territorial rifts to international arbitration. The Philippines is also seeking to shore up its territorial claims with new warships, fighters jets and radars from the United States.

FEATURED STORIES

Less room for maneuverability

Actions by both nations are shrinking the room for maneuverability, but they are exacerbated by perceptions that Washington is backing what China sees as deliberate provocations by the Philippines, said Jonathan Holslag, a research fellow at the Institute for Contemporary China Studies at the University of Brussels.

“China can’t give in, since that would be the same as backing down to American bullying,” Holslag said.

China and the Philippines are among six claimants to waters and island groups in the South China Sea, which Manila calls West Philippine Sea and which has heavily traveled maritime lanes, rich fishing grounds and a potential wealth of mineral resources.

The latest confrontation between Beijing and Manila began April 10 when the Philippine Navy accused Chinese boats of fishing illegally around Scarborough Shoal, which Manila claims as part of its exclusive economic zone, but which Beijing insists has been Chinese territory for centuries.

Variation of economic pressure

Beijing’s moves on tourism and fruit imports are a variation of unacknowledged economic pressure employed in past international disputes.

ADVERTISEMENT

China International Travel Service, one of the country’s largest, said it was suspending trips from Thursday based on safety considerations. Nationwide online agency Ctrip.com has also suspended trips, an agent said, citing “anti-China sentiments in that country right now.” She said the company acted on its own without official orders.

The Shanghai Tourism Bureau had also ordered a suspension, according to staff with the Yiyou and Guojikuaixian travel agencies in the eastern financial hub.

None of the agents would give their names because of the sensitivity of the matter. Calls to China’s national tourism administration rang unanswered Thursday.

Safety warning

The suspensions came as China’s embassy in Manila issued a safety warning to its nationals in the Philippines over protests planned on Saturday. Chinese tourists also make up about 9 percent of total arrivals to the Philippines, according to the Department of Tourism.  AP

Read Next
LATEST STORIES
MOST READ
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Bajo de Masingloc, China, Department of Foreign Affairs, Diplomacy, Foreign affairs, geopolitics, International relations, Masinloc, Panatag Shoal, Philippines, Raul Hernandez, Recto Bank, Scarborough Shoal, Spratly Islands, Spratlys, territorial disputes, Territories, West Philippine Sea, Zambales
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.


© Copyright 1997-2019 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.