‘Philippines, Province of China’ signs stir anger on anniversary of arbitration win

Traffic enforcers stand next to a banner reading ‘Welcome to the Philippines, Province of China’ after removing it from an overpass in Metro Manila. (Reuters)
Updated 12 July 2018
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‘Philippines, Province of China’ signs stir anger on anniversary of arbitration win

  • No group claimed responsibility for the banners, which feature English and Chinese characters and a Chinese flag flanked by dragons
  • Some users accused the political opposition of making the signs to discredit the government’s warming ties with China

MANILA: Banners calling the Philippines a “province of China” mysteriously appeared on bridges in Manila on Thursday, sparking fury on social media on what was the second anniversary of Manila’s victory over Beijing in a landmark arbitration case.
The terms “province of China” and “South China Sea” trended prominently on Twitter, while news reports of the sudden appearance of the red tarpaulin banners along key thoroughfares generated thousands of shares and comments on Facebook.
No group claimed responsibility for the banners, which feature English and Chinese characters and a Chinese flag flanked by dragons. City authorities were seen removing some of them, which were spotted in at least five locations.
Emojis denoting anger or surprise dominated comments on social media next to pictures of the signs, which say “Welcome to the Philippines, Province of China.”
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled two years ago that China had no historic title over the waters of the South China Sea and it had breached the Philippines’ sovereign rights by blocking its fishermen and building artificial islands in its Exclusive Economic Zone.
“NOT FUNNY,” former solicitor general and chief lawyer for the Philippine case, Florin Hilbay, posted on his social media accounts.
Some users accused the political opposition of making the signs to discredit the government’s warming ties with China.
Other chided the government for not challenging China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea. “This is too much. The country was sold off,” one Facebook user said.
The two countries have a bitter history of disputes over maritime sovereignty, but under President Rodrigo Duterte, who took office just two weeks before the Hague ruling, Manila has taken a conciliatory approach and wants China’s loans, trade and investments.
Duterte frequently praises Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and in February caused a stir when he jokingly offered the Philippines to Beijing as a province of China.
The Philippines scored an “own goal” in its failure to press China to implement the arbitration ruling, opposition party Akbayan said.
During an event to mark the anniversary of the ruling, Vice President Leni Robredo, who was elected separately to Duterte, said Filipinos should peacefully protest against the government’s inaction.
Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, called the banners “absurd” and said it was likely the government’s political enemies were behind them.
China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


TIMELINE: Theresa May’s three tumultuous Downing Street years

Updated 8 min 51 sec ago
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TIMELINE: Theresa May’s three tumultuous Downing Street years

  • May bowed out after nearly three years as prime minister on Friday
  • Marked the end of a rocky spell in 10 Downing Street

LONDON: Theresa May bowed out after nearly three years as prime minister on Friday, defeated by her inability to deliver Brexit.
Here are highlights of her tumultuous time in office:

July 13, 2016 - In her first speech as prime minister, May appears in Downing Street, pledging to fight the "burning injustices" that hold people back. She promises "a country that works for everyone" but will in fact find herself spending much of her time struggling with Brexit.

(AFP)


Jan 18, 2017 - A triumphant May is portrayed on the front page of the Daily Mail next to the headline "Steel of the New Iron Lady". She has just given a defiant speech, telling Brussels: "No deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain."

 


May 22, 2017 - May is forced to backtrack on an election pledge to force the elderly to pay more for care after her opinion poll lead fell by half. "Nothing has changed," she says to general incredulity.

June 4, 2017 - Responding to Britain's third militant attack in three months - the killing of seven people at London Bridge - May declared "enough is enough" and added: "Defeating this ideology is one of the great challenges of our time."

(AFP)


June 8, 2017 - Despite an apparently impregnable opinion poll lead, May loses her parliamentary majority in a general election called early. Despite repeated promises of a "strong and stable" government, her authority is in tatters.

Oct 3, 2017 - May's big speech to the Conservative Party conference was interrupted by repeated coughing fits, a prankster, and even letters of her slogan falling off the stage scenery. As a bid to reassert herslf, it had limited success.

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RELATED: British PM Theresa May resigns over Brexit failure

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Oct 3, 2018 - May startles the audience at the Conservative Party conference when she appears on stage for a speech jigging to Abba's "Dancing Queen." It was apparently a self-deprecating reference to her dancing during a recent visit to Africa, but she was nonetheless widely mocked.

(Screenshot/YouTube)

Dec 14, 2018 - A furious May is embroiled in a public row with Jean-Claude Juncker at a Brussels summit after the EU chief publicly called Britain's Brexit demands "nebulous" and "vague". Juncker joked that they had later kissed and made up, but the incident showed that relations were sub-optimal.

(Screenshot)

Dec 17, 2018 - At an EU summit in Salzburg, an unforgiving photo shows a red-jacketed May cold-shouldered by a phalanx of male leaders in dark suits.

Jan 19, 2019 - Lawmakers vote down May's Brexit divorce deal by the crushing margin of 432 to 202, the worst such defeat in modern British history. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn calls a vote of no confidence, which May however survives.

May 21, 2019 - In a last roll of the dice, May promises a "new deal" on Brexit. It is immediately rejected by large numbers of Conservative lawmakers and the opposition Labour Party.

(Screenshot)

May 24, 2019 - May announces she will quit, her voice breaking with emotion during a Downing Street address to the nation. She describes herself as "the second female prime minister, but certainly not the last."