|Activists hold a protest in front of the Chinese Consular Office in Manila|
Oil Politics - A war of words and more is heating up in the South China Sea over oil deposits.
- A disputed island sits atop a large cache of oil and natural gas.
Travel agencies in a number of key Chinese cities have suspended services to the Philippines where anti-China protests took place in an increasingly tense standoff between the two nations over a disputed island in the South China Sea.
Tourist firms, including China’s biggest travel agency, China International Tour Service (CITS), have now stopped operations to the Philippines in Dalian, in northeastern Liaoning province, Guangzhou, in southeastern Guangdong province, and Shanghai, as well as a number of other cities reports Radio Free Asia.
Agence France Presse quoted an employee at the CITS Beijing branch as confirming the halt to travel. "We stopped organizing for tourists to go to the Philippines because of the current situation," the employee said.
Another agency—Zhongtang International Travel Service—said it was currently "too dangerous" to send people to the Philippines, while a third company said tourism officials had asked them to stop their tours there.
The suspensions came amid a one-hour demonstration by around 200 people in Manila protesting Chinese claims to sovereignty over the hotly disputed Scarborough Shoal, a tiny island which lies about 230 kilometers (140 miles) off the coast of the Philippines.
Gathered in front of the Chinese Embassy in Manila, the demonstrators waved Philippine flags and held up signs which read "Stop China's aggression now." Beijing accused Philippines President Benigno Aquino’s government of encouraging the rally.
The island, which China refers to as Huangyan and the Philippines calls Panatag Shoal, may not look like much on the surface, it is surrounded by rich fishing waters and is believed to sit atop a large cache of oil and natural gas. The rights to these precious resources have led to a standoff between the two nations.
The South China Sea is home to potentially resource-rich island chains and some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. It is the object of a number of competing territorial claims.
Vietnam, China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan have all laid claim to all or part of the disputed territories.
China has underlined its "indisputable sovereignty" over the South China Sea, saying its claims stretch back at least to the 1930s, when official maps from Beijing contained the whole sea as Chinese territory.
Beijing’s current claims are based on a 2009 map showing a U-shaped dotted line extending from China and enclosing virtually the entire South China Sea while hugging the coastline of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines.
(Radio Free Asia)