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Think tank: China might occupy Scarborough, Ayungin after UN court ruling

Under China's nine-dash line, Bajo de Masinloc or the Scarborough Shoal is part of their territory. File photo

MANILA, Philippines — Beijing might occupy Manila-claimed Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal and Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal following the ruling of a United Nations tribunal on the South China Sea dispute, an independent think tank said.

Trident Defense Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rodrigo Mejia said that there are two options open to the Chinese after the issuance of the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration's final award.

"This first week and the second week will be crucial because I heard from the intelligence community from our allies in the States that the Chinese are planning to occupy the Scarborough Shoal which is Panatag Shoal in the Philippines," Mejia said in a forum Tuesday night.

Mejia added that the Chinese will send a fleet manned by militias or civilians to the Scarborough Shoal with the support of its Coast Guard as well as its People's Liberation Army, Navy and Air Force.

Defense expert believes Chinese might occupy... by Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV

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"Another option that China can do kasi they're going to retaliate. Napahiya sila sa decision. The Chinese hate losing face, napahiya sila dahil sa atin," Mejia said.

China might also occupy the Ayungin Shoal where Philippine Navy ship BRP Sierra Madre is deployed.

 

Philippines needs alliances

 

Mejia noted that the US Navy has also sent its ships to the disputed features to watch over China.

"About two weeks ago nagpadala na 'yung US dyan ng mga destroyer nila, mga aircraft carrier... The US is watching the Chinese especially yung mga battle ship nila," the Trident Defense chairman said.

However, the Philippines should not be dependent on the US as it also has its own interest, Mejia said.

The Philippines should instead strengthen its alliance with Japan, Australia and Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

"'Wag muna tayo mag-euphoria or victory. Nag-uumpisa pa lang ang labanan. We have to brace ourselves for a bigger battle," Mejia said.

The UN tribunal earlier ruled that China does not have a historic title to nearly the entire South China Sea, contrary to its nine-dash line claim over the disputed waters.

China has insisted that it has historical and legal claim over the South China Sea despite the ruling of the arbitral tribunal.

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