Beijing in ‘State of Alert’ Ahead of Key Ruling on South China Sea

Photo Credit: AP/達志影像
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Armored vehicles and undercover police have been deployed around the Embassy of the Philippines in Beijing amid rumors of planned protests.

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Hours before a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on the South China Sea dispute, authorities in Beijing have issued instructions to law enforcement to increase security outside the Embassy of the Philippines and around the city.

The decree comes in a tense atmosphere and amid rumors of possible large protests outside the embassy of the Philippines — the country that took the dispute to the court — as well as the Embassy of the United States, the country that Chinese nationalists blame for the whole mess.

With the ruling in The Hague to be made at 5 p.m. (Taipei time), the Beijing Emergency Office has issued a decree calling on security agencies in the capital to bolster their presence and to prepare for “unexpected events.” The decree is valid from 8 a.m. today until Sunday (July 17).

Armed police vehicles, plainclothes officials and “volunteers” began deploying outside the Embassy of the Philippines on Monday evening. Barbed wire fences have also been installed.

The Court of Arbitration is expected to rule in Manila’s favor. In recent months, a “victimized” Beijing has held a campaign to discredit the court and its judges, and says it will not abide by today’s ruling. Despite Manila’s strong emphasis on international law, China’s territorial claims to the South China Sea are staked on nationalistic pride and the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) positioning as defender of China’s honor and territorial integrity.

The cult of humiliation-versus-nationalism cultivated by the CCP over the past two decades has often led to “sudden” outbursts of public anger directed at Japan and the U.S. on issues such as the dispute with Tokyo over the Senkaku/Diaoyu/Diaoyutai islands in the East China Sea (also claimed by Taiwan) and the accidental NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Serbia, in 1999. In some instances, it was discovered that the “spontaneous” protests were orchestrated — or at a minimum permitted — by Beijing, which subsequently had to intervene to ensure the protests did not spin out of control. In 2012, large protests in several cities across China descended into violence against Japanese nationals and businesses.

Protesters have also gathered outside the Chinese Embassy in Manila today.

First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: Edward White

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