Chinese embassy's 'Iisang Dagat' tribute sparks outrage online

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The Chinese Embassy has released on Friday a tribute video titled "Iisang Dagat" to symbolize Philippines and China's so-called partnership amid the pandemic.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 26) — A music video about the Philippines and China's so-called partnership as "friendly neighbors across the sea" has been making the rounds on social media, but Filipino netizens are far from happy about it.

Titled "Iisang Dagat," the song released by the Chinese Embassy in Manila last Friday was met with huge backlash online, mostly from the Filipino community taking a jab at the intent of its message amid China's assertion of rights to the West Philippine Sea — areas Manila claims and occupies in the South China Sea.

"'Iisang Dagat' and yet you are acting as if that body of water is only yours. In the first place, if it's a shared body water, why are you building military structures on it and harassing ships from other countries? Your propaganda contradicts your actions!" said Epi Fabonan III on Facebook.

"It’s so funny how they titled this 'Iisang Dagat' when it’s not at all??? We’re all together as one is what they say, but they keep on grabbing islands that are supposed to belong to the Philippines," said YouTube user Iroha Nekomura. "And to think that the Chinese warship targetting PH navy issue is also still pretty recent??? Who thought this was a f***** good idea even?"

"Brace yourselves, Chinese propaganda machine is churning in our shores! Tasteless and disgusting," said Twitter user Mae Chatto.

The music video, which was purportedly dedicated to those who contributed to the COVID-19 fight from both countries, has already garnered 335,000 views on Facebook, 12,000 of which came along with waves of angry reactions on the platform.

On YouTube, the video already earned 273,000 views, with 95,000 dislikes and only 1,000 likes to date.

Even Camarines Sur Vice Governor and local music icon Imelda Papin, who lent her voice to the song, was not spared from criticisms of disappointed netizens.

"Magkaiba ang pagkakaisa ng mga Pilipino at pakiki-isa sa China. Yung una, makabayan. Yung pangalawa, makapili. Traydor ka sa bayan Imelda Papin," said @hunterei.

[Translation: The unity among Filipinos is different from promoting solidarity with China. The first one shows patriotism, the second one shows a traitor. You're a traitor, Imelda Papin.]

"I can't even find the right word to express my disgust," said @nylranozid on Twitter.

The Chinese Embassy noted that the song, written by Ambassador Huang Xilian, reflects both countries "demonstrating a new era partnership of mutual support during trying times and the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind advocated by the Chinese President Xi Jinping."

"Just as the lyric goes, as friendly neighbors across the sea, China and the Philippines will continue to join hands and make every effort to overcome the COVID-19 at the earliest!" it added.

Just a day before the song was released, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. announced that the Philippines lodged two diplomatic protests against China for pointing a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship in the Kalayaan Island Group and declaring parts of Philippine territory as parts of Hainan province — "both violations of international law and Philippine sovereignty."

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario previously said that China's recent movements involving the disputed waters show that it has been "relentless in exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic" to pursue its "illegal and expansive claims" in the South China Sea.

A 2016 ruling by a Hague-based arbitral tribunal backed by the Permanent Court of Arbitration voided China’s sweeping claims over virtually the entire South China Sea based on so-called historical rights, but Beijing continues to reject this decision.

President Rodrigo Duterte has nurtured ties with China, despite its continued aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

CNN Philippines' Xave Gregorio and Eimor Santos contributed to this report.