The fishing boat incident on April 10 occurred in the sea around a triangular collection of small reefs, rocks, and islands about 150 miles off the Philippine coast and more than 500 miles from mainland China.
Known to international mariners as the Scarborough Shoal – named for a tea ship wreck that occurred there in the 18th century – Beijing calls the 58-square-mile outcropping Huangyan Island, while Manila calls it Panatag.
A series of tense diplomatic exchanges ensued and for weeks both governments refused to back down from their claims of sovereignty. Meanwhile, ships from both navies maneuvered in and out of waters around the shoal. Manila claimed that the United States would come to its defense if China attacked.
Heated rhetoric continued Thursday. “Peace will be a luxury if tensions continue to rise,” said an editorial in China’s English-language Global Times, a newspaper backed by the Communist Party’s flagship publication the People’s Daily.
Chinese media warned of Philippine anti-China protests and told Chinese abroad to heed local laws and heighten safety precautions.
“The Philippines encourages citizens at home or abroad to launch anti-China protests. Such behavior attracts intense responses and attention to Chinese people at home and abroad. We hope the Philippines will not further damage our relations,” spokesman Hong Lei said, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry website.