China has escalated a showdown with the Philippines along the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea by sending in more surveillance ships and fishing boats, Philippine military personnel tell the AFP. "They are just worsening the insult," the major in command of the region says. "They really want to test what a little country like the Philippines can do against a giant."
China now has four surveillance ships and 10 fishing boats parked off the disputed shoal, and the fishermen are loading up on giant clams and coral, despite Philippine protections on the area. The major says the two Philippine coast guard ships there are powerless to stop the fishing. A spokesman for President Benigno Aquino says he intends to resolve the situation diplomatically. "We do not wish to escalate any tensions right now," he said. The Philippines maintains that the shoal falls within a 200-nautical-mile area it has exclusive rights to, while China believes its claim over the South China Sea extends right up to the Philippines' coast. (Read more China stories.)