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Philippines feels the economic cost of standing up to China

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Pat Roque/AP

(Read caption) Protesters march towards the Chinese consulate during a rally Friday, May 11, in Manila's financial district of Makati, Philippines. The Philippines and China are in a standoff over Scarborough Shoal which began early April after the Philippine navy accused Chinese boats of illegally fishing in the area.

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The South China Sea territorial dispute between China and the Philippines is beginning to take a toll on the Philippine economy, which is dependent on a steady Chinese demand for its products.

The two countries have been locked in a tense standoff since April 10, when a Philippine naval ship attempted to arrest Chinese fishermen working off what is known internationally as the Scarborough Shoal. The Philippines claims the territory is within its exclusive economic zone, but China claims sovereignty over it, and Chinese ships blocked the arrest, ordering the Philippine ship to leave.

Beijing calls the cluster of land, which is more than 500 miles from China and about 150 miles from the Philippines, Huangyan Island. Manila calls it Panatag. 

China Daily reports that China is the Philippines' third largest trade partner and that the Philippines is China's six largest in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The two countries agreed to expand their trade to $60 billion by 2016, up from $30 billion in 2011, making China the biggest export market for the Philippines and leaving the island nation economically vulnerable in this dispute.

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