A short music video barely two minutes in length is gaining traction among netizens as it skewers China’s alleged attempts at acquiring the Grande and Chiquita Islands in Zambales and Fuga Island in Aparri.
The video shows the islands set to the music of Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita” with a woman singing Filipino lyrics that portray China as being enamored of the three islands, then swooping in to steal them from a country that has been enjoying a time of peace and optimism.
The video then calls out China for poaching territory from its neighbors. It is still unknown who produced the video, but it seemed to touch a nerve among netizens who left comments on social media agreeing with the video’s allegations.
One user on the “Justice for Sale” Facebook page, where the music video was posted, said that “it’s true that China is stealing islands from the Philippines.” Another commenter claimed that China “has been achieving progress by using the resources of the Philippines.”
China’s sincerity in helping out the Philippines was questioned by another commenter, who said China would be welcome here “if they were sincere in their desire to help,” but warned them of “attempting to hoodwink the Filipino people.”
It is unknown if the Chinese embassy is aware of the video or the netizens’ comments over it.
The “Las Islas Bonita” video appeared online after reports that a Chinese-owned company, Sanya CEDF Sino-Philippine Investment Corp., proposed in 2019 to develop and operate Grande and Chiquita Islands in Zambales in a $298 million (P14 billion) project partnership with local firm GFTG Property Holdings.
The deal was put on hold by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, which oversees Grande and Chiquita Islands, after seeing “some problems” that would violate the Philippine Constitution.
The group Pinoy Action for Governance and the Environment (PAGE) this month also petitioned the Senate to investigate the alleged sellout of the two islands.
Grande and Chiquita Islands are considered strategic to national security, as they are access-ways to China-controlled Scarborough Shoal and other areas in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
Meanwhile, the 10,000-hectare Fuga Island in Aparri town, Cagayan is being eyed as a site of a Chinese-led $2 billion “smart city” development, PAGE told the Senate.
Even before these moves, tensions between the Philippines and China have risen due to conflicts in the West Philippine Sea. China still refuses to acknowledge the 2016 arbitration ruling that called China’s nine-dash line and its claims surrounding the West Philippine Sea “illegal and invalid.”
On Wednesday, the Philippines filed a diplomatic protest after China enacted a law that allows its coast guard to shoot at foreign vessels in areas of the West Philippine Sea that they claim is theirs.
The new law is also expected to heighten tensions between China and other countries who have claims in the waterway such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan.