Published On: Tue, Oct 29th, 2019

South China Sea chaos: Philippines in earthquake nightmare as China plots waters grab | World | News

An earthquake has rocked the south west of the Philippines’ island cluster causing buildings to shake in frightening fashion and residents to flee desperately. Citizens have been advised to remain outside of buildings in the region as concerns of recurring, ground shaking aftershocks loom. DZMM radio reported that power cables were seen swinging in Davao (located in the south) while people rushed to open spaces, with some fainting because of fear.

Classes in schools were suspended after the earthquake, and it also triggered power cuts in General Santos city (located in the south), ANC News channel reported.

The quake was initially reported as being of 6.7 magnitude by the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center, and resulted in the death of four people.

Earthquakes are common in the Philippines. On October 16, a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck central Mindanao, killing five people and injuring dozens.

While Filipino citizens have become accustomed to the impacts of earthquakes, the chaos that has ensued could not have come at a worse time for Manila as South China Sea disputes escalate with China.

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte will be hoping the devastating earthquake will not hamper his country’s military and defence plans as the islands prepare to fend off Beijing.

Manila has begun beefing up its defensive capabilities as a result of Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s insistence on sending various vessels into Filipino waters.

National security adviser under Duterte Hermogenes Esperon said: “Whatever we spend on defence should strengthen our position on developing our maritime domain especially the West Philippine Sea into what we call the blue economy.”

Capitalising on the so-called blue economy, such as using the oceans to generate energy, or tapping its oil and mineral resources, could help boost economic growth in the Philippines.

READ MORE: Philippines earthquake: Panic after huge 6.4 quake rocks city

Mr Duterte said he has been offered a controlling stake in a joint energy deal by Xi Jinping in exchange for ignoring the international arbitration in Manila’s favour.

Ahead of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summit in Thailand this week, Duterte will not be alone in his fury at Xi Jinping.

China and Vietnam have had both recent and longstanding quarrels in the South China Sea, with violence breaking out between the two in 1988’s Johnson South Reef skirmish, leading to the death of 64 Vietnamese soldiers.

In 2014, there was a standoff between Chinese and Vietnamese military, as a Chinese oil rig entered disputed waters where Vietnam had also contested for ownership.

China and the Philippines continue to squabble over contested waters, but Beijing may sense an opportunity to cement its dominance as its counterparts reel in earthquake disaster.

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