Manila protest demands China withdraw from disputed waters

Hundreds of Philippine activists and fishermen gathered outside the Chinese consulate in Manila on Tuesday to protest Beijing's maritime activities.

They demanded that China withdraw from disputed waters in the South China Sea, where soaring tension between Manila and Beijing is affecting the lives of Philippine fishermen.

Protesters took to the streets on the day before Philippine Independence Day. Among them were fishermen unable to continue their jobs as China increases its presence in the South China Sea.

A fisherman said his children have had to stop studying because he lost his source of income.

A female student protester said Filipinos need to express clearly that the West Philippine Sea is theirs and China should not take it away from fishermen or abuse them.

Beijing is claiming almost the entire South China Sea, including the Scarborough Shoal. But Manila says the reef is within its exclusive economic zone and a traditional fishing ground for Filipino fishermen.

Beijing has been stepping up its confrontational stance in the contested waters.

Chinese Coast Guard vessels fired water cannons at Philippine government supply vessels in recent months. In March, several Filipino crew members were injured.

The Chinese boats also tried to block the evacuation of a sick soldier stationed at a military outpost in the South China sea, a move Manila denounced as "barbaric and inhumane." Beijing rejected this account, saying that the Philippines did not issue a notice in advance.